City of Heavenly Fire – Chapter 7: CLASH BY NIGHT

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Chapter 7: CLASH BY NIGHT

The volcanic plain spread out like a pale moonscape before Jace, reaching to a line of distant mountains, black against the horizon. White snow dusted the ground: thick in some places; crisp, thin ice in others. Deadly sharp rocks sliced through the ice and snow, along with the bare branches of hedges and frozen moss. The moon was behind clouds, the velvet dark sky pricked here and there with stars, dulled by a sheen of cloud. Light blazed up all around them, though, from seraph blades—and, Jace saw as his eyes adjusted, light from what looked like a bonfire burning in the distance. The Portal had deposited Jace and Clary a few feet from each other, in the snow. They were side by side now, Clary very silent, her coppery hair dusted with white flakes. All around them were cries and shouts, the sound of seraph blades being ignited, the murmur of the names of angels. “Stay close to me,” Jace murmured as he and Clary neared the top of the ridge. He had caught up a longsword from the pile by the Portal just before leaping in, Jia’s cry of dismay following them through the shrieking winds. Jace had half-expected her or Robert to follow them through, but instead the Portal had closed up immediately after them, like a door slamming shut. The unfamiliar blade was heavy in Jace’s hand. He preferred to use his left arm, but the sword had a right-handed grip. The weapon was dented around the sides, as if it had seen quite a few battles. He wished he had one of his own weapons in his hand— It appeared all at once, rising up in front of them like a fish breaking the surface of water with a sudden silver glint. Jace had seen the Adamant Citadel before only in pictures. Carved out of the same stuff as seraph blades, the Citadel glowed against the night sky like a star; it was what Jace had mistaken for the light of a bonfire. A circular wall of adamas ringed it, with no opening in the wall except a single gate, formed of two huge blades plunged into the ground at angles, like an open pair of scissors. All around the Citadel the volcanic ground stretched away, black and white like a chessboard—half volcanic rock and half snow. Jace felt the hairs rise on the back of his neck. It was like being at the Burren again, though he remembered that only the way one might remember a dream: Sebastian’s dark Nephilim, in their red gear, and the Nephilim of the Clave, in black, blade to blade, the sparks of battle rising into the night, and then the fire of Glorious, wiping out all that had gone before. The earth of the Burren had been dark, but now Sebastian’s warriors stood out like drops of blood against the white ground. They were waiting, red under the light of the stars, their dark blades in their hands. They stood between the Nephilim who had come through the Portal, and the gates of the Adamant Citadel. Though the Endarkened were at a distance, and though Jace could not see any of their faces clearly, he could somehow feel them smiling. And he could feel too the unease in the Nephilim around him, the Shadowhunters who had come through the Portal so confident, so ready for battle. They stood and looked down at the Endarkened, and Jace could feel the hesitation in their bravado. At last—too late—they felt it: the alienness, the difference of the Endarkened. These were not Shadowhunters who had temporarily strayed from the path. They were not Shadowhunters at all. “Where is he?” Clary whispered. Her breath was white in the cold. “Where’s Sebastian?” Jace shook his head; many of the red-geared Shadowhunters had their hoods up, and their faces were invisible. Sebastian could have been any one of them. “And the Iron Sisters?” Clary searched the plain with her gaze. The only white was snow. There was no sign of the Sisters in their robes, familiar from many Codex illustrations. “They’ll stay inside the Citadel,” Jace said. “They have to protect what’s inside it. The arsenal. Presumably that’s what Sebastian’s here for—the weapons. The Sisters will have surrounded the interior armory with their bodies. If he manages to get through the gates, or his Endarkened do, the Sisters will destroy the Citadel before they let him have it. ” His voice was grim. “But if Sebastian knows that, if he knows what the Sisters will do—” Clary began. A scream cut the night like a knife. Jace started forward before realizing the scream was coming from behind them. Jace whirled to see a man in worn gear go down with the blade of a Dark Shadowhunter in his chest. It was the man who had called out to Clary in Alicante, before they had reached the Gard. The Dark Shadowhunter whirled, grinning. There was a cry from the Nephilim, and the blonde woman Clary had heard speaking excitedly at the Gard stepped forward. “Jason!” she cried, and Clary realized she was speaking to the Endarkened warrior, a thickset man with the same blonde hair she had. “Jason, please. ” Her voice trembled as she moved forward, stretching out her hand to the Endarkened, who drew another blade from his belt, looking at her expectantly. “Please, no,” Clary said. “Don’t—don’t go near him—” But the blonde woman was only a step away from the Dark Shadowhunter. “Jason,” she whispered. “You’re my brother. You’re one of us, a Nephilim. You don’t have to do this—Sebastian can’t force you. Please—” She looked around, desperate. “Come with us. They’re working on a cure; we’ll fix you—” Jason laughed. His blade flashed out, a sideways slash. The blonde Shadowhunter’s head fell. Blood fanned out, black against the white snow, as her body slumped to the ground. Someone was screaming over and over, hysterically, and then someone else cried out and gestured wildly behind them. Jace looked up and saw a line of Endarkened advancing from behind, from the direction of the closed Portal. Their blades flashed out in the moonlight. The Nephilim began to stumble down the ridge, but it was no longer an orderly progression—there was panic among them; Jace could feel it, like the taste of blood on the wind. “Hammer and anvil!” he shouted, hoping they would understand. He seized Clary with his free hand and yanked her back, away from the headless body on the ground. “It’s a trap,” he shouted at her over the noise of the fighting. “Get to a wall, somewhere you can make a Portal! Get us out of here!” Her green eyes widened. He wanted to grab her, kiss her, cling on to her, protect her, but the fighter in him knew he had brought her into this life. Encouraged her. Trained her. When he saw the understanding in her eyes, he nodded and let her go. Clary pulled away from his grip, sliding past an Endarkened warrior who was facing off against a staff-wielding Silent Brother in bloody parchment robes. Her boots skidded on the snow as she darted toward the Citadel. The crowd swallowed her up just as an Endarkened warrior drew his weapon free and lunged for Jace. Like all Endarkened Shadowhunters, his motions were blindingly swift, almost feral. As he rose up with his blade, he seemed to blot out the moon. And Jace’s blood rose up too, shooting like fire through his veins as his awareness narrowed: There was nothing else in the world, only this moment, only the weapon in his hand. He leaped toward the Dark Shadowhunter, his sword outstretched. Clary bent to retrieve Heosphoros from where it had fallen in the snow. The blade was smeared with blood, the blood of a Dark Shadowhunter who was even now darting away from her, flinging himself back into the battle churning on the plain. It had happened now a half dozen times. Clary would attack, attempt to engage one of the Endarkened in a fight, and they would drop their weapons, back away, turn from her as if she were a ghost, and hurry away. The first time or two she had wondered if they were afraid of Heosphoros, confused by a blade that looked so much like Sebastian’s. She suspected something else now. Sebastian had probably told them not to touch her or hurt her, and they were obeying. It made her want to scream. She knew she should fling herself after them when they ran, end them with a blade to the back, or a slice to the throat, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. They still looked like Nephilim, human enough. Their blood ran red onto the snow. It still felt like cowardice to attack someone who could not attack back. Ice crunched behind her, and she spun, her blade out. Everything had happened in a rush: the realization that there were twice as many Endarkened as they had counted on, that they were besieged on two sides, Jace’s plea to her to make a Portal. She was fighting her way through a desperate crowd now. Some Shadowhunters had scattered, and some had planted themselves where they were, determined to fight. As a mass they were being slowly pushed down the hill toward the plain, where the battle was at its thickest, bright seraph blades flashing out against dark knives, a mix of black and white and red. For the first time Clary had cause to bless her small size. She was able to dart through the crowd, her gaze catching on desperate tableaux of fighting. There, a Nephilim barely older than she was waged a desperate battle against one of the Endarkened, twice the Shadowhunter’s size, who forced her down into the blood-slicked snow; a blade swung out, and then a shriek, and a seraph blade darkened forever. A dark-haired young man in black Shadowhunter gear stood over the body of a dead warrior in red. He held a bloody sword in one hand, and tears were running down his face, unchecked. Nearby a Silent Brother, a sight unexpected but welcome in his parchment robes, crushed the skull of a Dark Shadowhunter with one blow from his wooden staff; the Endarkened crumpled in silence. A man fell to his knees, wrapping his arms around the legs of a woman in red gear; she looked at him dispassionately, then drove her sword down between his shoulder blades. None of the warriors moved to stop her. Clary burst out on the other side of the crowd and found herself beside the Citadel. Its walls were shining with an intense light. Through the arch of the scissor gate, she thought she could see the glow of something red-gold like fire. She scrabbled for the stele at her belt, took hold of it, put the tip to the wall—and froze. Only feet from her, a Dark Shadowhunter had slipped away from the battle and toward the Citadel gates. He carried a mace and flail under his arm; with a grinning glance back at the battle, he ducked through the Citadel gate— And the scissors closed. There was no scream, but the sickening crunch of bone and gristle was audible even through the noise of battle. A gout of blood sprayed across the closed gate, and Clary realized it was not the first. There were other stains, fanned across the Citadel wall, darkening the ground beneath— She turned away, her stomach clenching, and pressed her stele harder against the stone. She began to force her mind to thoughts of Alicante, trying to visualize the grassy space before the Gard, trying to push away the distractions all around her. “Drop the stele, Valentine’s daughter,” said a cold, even voice. She froze. Behind her stood Amatis, sword in hand, the sharp tip pointing directly at Clary. There was a feral grin on her face. “That’s right,” she said. “Drop the stele to the ground and come with me. I know someone who’ll be very pleased to see you. ” “Move, Clarissa. ” Amatis jabbed Clary in the side with the tip of her sword—not hard enough to cut through her jacket, but enough to make Clary uncomfortable. Clary had dropped her stele; it lay feet away in the filthy snow, shining with a tantalizing glimmer. “Stop dawdling. ” “You can’t hurt me,” Clary said. “Sebastian’s given orders. ” “Orders not to kill you,” Amatis agreed. “He never said anything about hurting you. I’ll happily turn you over to him with all your fingers missing, girl. Don’t think I won’t. ” Clary glared before turning around and letting Amatis herd her toward the battle. Her gaze was darting among the Endarkened, looking for a familiar fair head in the sea of scarlet. She needed to know how much time she had before Amatis threw her down at Sebastian’s feet and the chance to fight or run was over. Amatis had taken Heosphoros, of course, and the Morgenstern blade now dangled at the older woman’s hip, the stars along the ridge winking in the dim light. “I bet you don’t even know where he is,” Clary said. Amatis jabbed her again, and Clary lurched forward, almost stumbling over the dead body of a Dark Shadowhunter. The ground was a churned-up mass of snow and dirt and blood. “I am Sebastian’s first lieutenant; I always know where he is. That is why I am the one he trusts to bring you to him. ” “He doesn’t trust you. He doesn’t care about you, or anything. Look. ” They had reached the bump of a small ridge; Clary slowed to a stop and swept her arm out, indicating the battlefield. “Look how many of you are falling—Sebastian just wants cannon fodder. Just wants to use you up. ” “Is that what you see? I see dead Nephilim. ” Clary could see Amatis out of the corner of her eye. Her gray-brown hair floated on the cold air, and her eyes were hard. “You think the Clave is not overmatched? Look. Look there. ” She jabbed with a finger, and Clary looked, unwillingly. The two halves of Sebastian’s army had closed in and were encircling the Nephilim in their midst. Many of the Nephilim were fighting with skill and viciousness. They were, in their own strange way, lovely to watch in battle; the light of their seraph blades traced patterns on the dark sky. Not that it changed the fact that they were doomed. “They did what they always do when there’s an attack outside Idris and a Conclave is not near. They sent through the Portal whoever arrived at the Gard first. Some of these warriors have never fought in a real battle before. Some of them have fought in too many. None of them are prepared to kill an enemy that bears the faces of their sons, lovers, friends, parabatai. ” She spat the last word. “The Clave does not understand our Sebastian or his forces, and they will be dead before they do. ” “Where did they come from?” Clary demanded. “The Endarkened. The Clave said there were only twenty of them, and there was no way for Sebastian to hide their numbers. How—” Amatis threw her head back and laughed. “As if I’d tell you. Sebastian has allies in more places than you know, little one. ” “Amatis. ” Clary tried to keep her voice steady. “You’re one of us. Nephilim. You’re Luke’s sister. ” “He’s a Downworlder, and no brother of mine. He should have killed himself when Valentine told him to. ” “You don’t mean that. You were happy to see him when we came to your house. I know you were. ” This time the jab of the blade’s tip between her shoulder blades was more than uncomfortable: It hurt. “I was trapped then,” Amatis said. “Thinking I needed the approval of the Clave and the Council. The Nephilim took everything from me. ” She turned to glare at the Citadel. “The Iron Sisters took my mother. Then an Iron Sister presided over my divorce. They cut my marriage Marks in two, and I cried with the pain of it. They have no hearts in them, only adamas, and the Silent Brothers too. You think they are kind, that the Nephilim are kind, because they are good, but goodness is not kindness, and there is nothing crueler than virtue. ” “But we can choose,” Clary said, but how could you explain to someone who didn’t understand that their choices had been taken away, that there was such a thing as free will? “Oh, for Hell’s sake, be quiet—” Amatis broke off, stiffening. Clary followed her gaze. For a moment she couldn’t see what the other woman was staring at. She saw the chaos of fighting, blood in the snow, the spark of starlight on blades and the harsh glow of the Citadel. Then she realized that the battle seemed to be resolving itself into an odd sort of pattern—something was cutting a path through the middle of the crowd, like a ship slicing through water, leaving chaos in its wake. A slender black-clad Shadowhunter with bright hair, moving so fast, it was like watching fire spring from ridge to ridge in a forest, catching everything ablaze. Only in this case the forest was Sebastian’s army, Endarkened falling one by one. Falling so quickly, they barely had time to reach for their weapons, much less raise them. And as they fell, others began to fall back, confused and uncertain, so that Clary could see the space that was being cleared in the middle of the battle, and who stood in the center of it. Despite everything, she smiled. “Jace. ” Amatis sucked in a breath of surprise—it was a moment’s distraction, but it was all Clary needed to swing forward and hook her leg around Amatis’s ankles the way Jace had taught her, and then she swept Amatis’s feet out from under her. Amatis fell, her sword skittering out of her hand, across the frozen ground. Amatis was bending to spring back up when Clary tackled her—not gracefully but effectively, knocking her back into the snow. Amatis hit out at her, snapping Clary’s head back, but Clary’s hand was at the older woman’s belt, snatching Heosphoros free, and then jamming the razor-sharp tip against Amatis’s throat. Amatis froze. “That’s right,” Clary said. “Don’t even think about moving. ” “Let me go!” Isabelle screamed at her father. “Let me go!” When the demon towers had gone red and gold with the warning to get to the Gard, she and Alec had scrambled to seize their gear and their weapons and hurtle up the hill. Isabelle’s heart pounded, not from the exertion but from excitement. Alec was grim and practical as always, but Isabelle’s whip was singing to her. Maybe this might be it, a real battle; maybe this might be the time they faced Sebastian again on the field, and this time she would kill him. For her brother. For Max. Alec and Isabelle had been unprepared for the crush of people in the Gard courtyard, or the speed with which Nephilim were being ushered through the Portal. Isabelle had lost her brother in the crowd but had pushed toward the Portal—she had seen Jace and Clary there, about to step through, and she’d redoubled her speed—until suddenly two hands had come out of the crowd and seized hold of her arms. Her father. Isabelle kicked against him and yelled for Alec, but Jace and Clary were already gone, into the Portal whirlpool. Snarling, Isabelle fought, but her father had height and build and years of training on her. He let her go just as the Portal gave one last whirl and slammed closed, disappearing into the blank wall of the armory. The remaining Nephilim in the courtyard went quiet, waiting for instructions. Jia Penhallow announced that enough of them had gone through to the Citadel, that the others should wait inside the Gard in case reinforcements were needed; there was no need to stand in the courtyard and freeze. She understood how badly everyone wanted to fight, but plenty of warriors had been dispatched to the Citadel, and Alicante still required a force to guard it. “See?” said Robert Lightwood, gesturing at his daughter in exasperation as she whirled to face him. She was pleased to see that there were bleeding scratches on his wrists where she’d clawed at him. “You’re needed here, Isabelle—” “Shut up,” she hissed at him through her teeth. “Shut up, you lying bastard. ” Astonishment wiped his expression blank. Isabelle knew from Simon and Clary that a certain amount of shouting at one’s parents was expected in mundane culture, but Shadowhunters believed in respect for elders and a governance of one’s emotions. Only, Isabelle didn’t feel like governing her emotions. Not right now. “Isabelle—” It was Alec, skidding into place beside her. The crowd around was thinning, and she was distantly aware that many of the Nephilim had already gone inside the Gard. The ones who were left were looking away awkwardly. Other people’s family fights were not Shadowhunter business. “Isabelle, let’s go back to the house. ” Alec reached for her hand; she jerked it out of his with an irritated movement. Isabelle loved her brother, but never had she more wanted to punch him in the head. “No,” she said. “Jace and Clary went through; we should get to go with them. ” Robert Lightwood looked weary. “They weren’t meant to go,” he said. “They did it against strict orders. It doesn’t mean you should follow. ” “They knew what they were doing,” Isabelle snapped. “You need more Shadowhunters facing Sebastian, not less. ” “Isabelle, I don’t have time for this,” said Robert, looking exasperatedly at Alec as if he expected his son to side with him. “There are only twenty Endarkened there with Sebastian. We sent fifty warriors through. ” “Twenty of them is like a hundred Shadowhunters,” said Alec in his quiet voice. “Our side could be slaughtered. ” “If anything happens to Jace and Clary, it’ll be your fault,” Isabelle said. “Just like Max. ” Robert Lightwood recoiled. “Isabelle. ” Her mother’s voice cut through the sudden, terrible silence. Isabelle whipped her head around and saw that Maryse had come up behind them; she, like Alec, looked stunned. A small distant part of Isabelle felt guilty and sick, but the part of her that seemed to have taken the reins, that was bubbling up inside her like a volcano, felt only a bitter triumph. She was tired of pretending everything was all right. “Alec’s right,” Maryse went on. “Let’s go back to the house—” “No,” Isabelle said. “Didn’t you hear the Consul? We’re needed here, at the Gard. They might want reinforcements. ” “They’ll want adults, not children,” said Maryse. “If you’re not going to go back, then apologize to your father. Max’s—What happened to Max was no one’s fault but Valentine’s. ” “And maybe if you hadn’t been on Valentine’s side once, there wouldn’t have been a Mortal War,” Isabelle hissed at her mother. Then she rounded on her father. “I’m tired of pretending I don’t know what I know. I know you cheated on Mom. ” Isabelle couldn’t stop the words now; they kept coming, like a flood. She saw Maryse go white, Alec open his mouth to protest. Robert looked as if she had hit him. “Before Max was born. I know. She told me. With some woman who died in the Mortal War. And you were going to leave too, leave all of us, and you only stayed because Max was born, and I bet you’re glad he’s dead, aren’t you, because now you don’t have to stay. ” “Isabelle—” Alec began, in horror. Robert turned to Maryse. “You told her? By the Angel, Maryse, when?” “You mean it’s true?” Alec’s voice shook with revulsion. Robert turned to him. “Alexander, please—” But Alec had turned his back. The courtyard was almost entirely empty of Nephilim now. Isabelle could see Jia standing in the distance, near the entrance to the armory, waiting for the last of them to come inside. She saw Alec go over to Jia, heard the sound of him arguing with her. Isabelle’s parents were both looking at her as if their worlds were toppling over. She had never thought of herself as being able to destroy her parents’ world before. She had expected her father to shout at her, not to stand there in his Inquisitor’s gray, looking wrecked. Finally he cleared his throat. “Isabelle,” he said hoarsely. “Whatever else you think, you must believe—you can’t really think that when we lost Max, that I—” “Don’t talk to me,” Isabelle said, stumbling away from both of them, her heart thudding brokenly in her chest. “Just—don’t talk to me. ” She turned and fled.

Jace hurtled through the air, collided with a Dark Shadowhunter, and rode the Endarkened One’s body down to earth, dispatching him with a vicious scissoring blow. Somehow he had acquired a second blade; he wasn’t sure where. Everything was blood and fire singing in his head. Jace had fought before, many times. He knew the chill of battle as it descended, the world around him slowing to a whisper, every movement he made precise and exact. Some part of his mind was able to push away the blood and pain and stink of it behind a wall of clear ice. But this wasn’t ice; this was fire. The burn that coursed through his veins drove him on, sped his movements so that he felt as if he were flying. He kicked the headless corpse of the Dark Shadowhunter into the path of another, a red-clad figure flying toward him. She stumbled, and he sliced her neatly in half. Blood erupted across the snow. He was already soaked in it: he could feel his gear, heavy and sodden, against his body, and could smell the salt-iron tang, as if blood infused the air he was breathing. He neatly jumped the dead Endarkened’s body and strode toward another of them, a brown-haired man with a tear in the sleeve of his red gear. Jace raised the sword in his right hand, and the man flinched, surprising him. The Dark Shadowhunters didn’t seem to feel much fear, and they died without screaming. This one, though, had his face twisted with fear— “Really, Andrew, there’s no need to look like that. I’m not going to do anything to you,” said a voice behind Jace, sharp and clear and familiar. And just a touch exasperated. “Unless you don’t move out of the way. ” The brown-haired Shadowhunter darted hastily away from Jace, who turned, already knowing what he would see. Sebastian stood behind him. He had arrived seemingly out of nowhere, though that didn’t surprise Jace. He knew Sebastian still possessed Valentine’s ring, which allowed him to appear and disappear at will. He wore red gear, worked all through with gold runes—runes of protection and healing and good luck. Gray Book runes, the kind his followers couldn’t wear. The red made his pale hair look paler, his grin a white slice across his face as his gaze scanned Jace from his head to his boots. “My Jace,” he said. “Been missing me?” In a flash Jace’s swords were up, both tips hovering just over Sebastian’s heart. He heard a murmur from the crowd around him. It seemed that both the Dark Shadowhunters and their Nephilim counterparts had paused their fighting to watch what was going on. “You can’t actually think I missed you. ” Sebastian raised his eyes slowly, his amused gaze meeting Jace’s. Eyes black like his father’s. In their lightless depths Jace saw himself, saw the apartment he had shared with Sebastian, the meals they had eaten together, jokes they had traded, battles they’d shared. He had subsumed himself in Sebastian, had given over his will entirely, and it had been pleasurable and easy, and down in the darkest depths of his treacherous heart, Jace knew that part of him wanted it again. It made him hate Sebastian even more. “Well, I can’t imagine why else you’re here. You know I can’t be killed with a blade,” Sebastian said. “The brat from the Los Angeles Institute must have told you that, at least. ” “I could slice you apart,” Jace said. “See if you can survive in tiddlywink-size pieces. Or cut off your head. It might not kill you, but it would be fun watching you try to find it. ” Sebastian was still smiling. “I wouldn’t try,” he said, “if I were you. ” Jace exhaled, his breath a white plume. Don’t let him stall you, his brain screamed, but the curse of it was that he knew Sebastian, knew him well enough that he couldn’t trust that Sebastian was bluffing. Sebastian hated to bluff. He liked to have the advantage and know it. “Why not?” Jace growled through clenched teeth. “My sister,” said Sebastian. “You sent Clary off to make a Portal? Not very clever, separating yourselves. She is being held some distance from here by one of my lieutenants. Harm me, and her throat will be cut. ” There was a murmuring from the Nephilim behind him, but Jace couldn’t listen. Clary’s name pounded in the blood in his veins, and the place where Lilith’s rune had once connected him to Sebastian burned. They said it was better to know your enemy, but how did it help to know that your enemy’s one weakness was your weakness too? The murmuring of the crowd rose to a roar as Jace began to lower his blades; Sebastian moved so quickly that Jace saw only a blur as the other boy whipped around and kicked out at Jace’s wrist. The sword fell from his right hand’s numb grasp, and he threw himself backward, but Sebastian was faster, drawing the Morgenstern blade and slashing out at Jace with a blow that Jace managed to evade only by twisting his whole body to the side. The tip of the sword sliced a shallow gash across his ribs. Now some of the blood on his gear was his own. He ducked as Sebastian slashed out at him again, and the sword whistled past his head. He heard Sebastian curse and came up with his own blade swinging. The two clashed together with the sound of ringing metal, and Sebastian grinned. “You can’t win,” he said. “I’m better than you, always have been. I might be the best. ” “Modest, too,” Jace said, and their swords slid apart with a grinding noise. He moved back, just enough to get range. “And you can’t hurt me, not really, because of Clary,” Sebastian went on, relentless. “Just like she couldn’t hurt me because of you. Always the same dance. Neither of you willing to make the sacrifice. ” He came at Jace with a side swing; Jace parried, though the force of Sebastian’s blow sent a shock up his arm. “You’d think, with all your obsession with goodness, that one of you would be willing to give up the other for a greater cause. But no. Love is essentially selfish, and so are both of you. ” “You don’t know either of us,” Jace gasped; he was breathing hard now, and knew he was fighting defensively, fending off Sebastian rather than attacking. The Strength rune on his arm was burning, flaring up the last of its power. That was bad. “I know my sister,” said Sebastian. “And not now, but soon enough I’ll know her every way you can know someone. ” He grinned again, feral. It was the same look he’d worn so long ago, on a summer night outside the Gard, when he’d said, Or maybe you’re just angry because I kissed your sister. Because she wanted me. Nausea rose up in Jace, nausea and rage, and he flung himself at Sebastian, forgetting for a moment the rules of swordplay, forgetting to keep the weight of his grip evenly distributed, forgetting balance and precision and everything but hate, and Sebastian’s grin widened as he stepped out of the way of the attack and neatly kicked Jace’s leg out from under him. He went down hard, his back colliding with the icy ground, knocking the breath out of him. He heard the whistle of the sword before he saw it, and rolled to the side as the Morgenstern blade slashed into the ground where he’d been a second before. The stars swung crazily overhead, black and silver, and then Sebastian was standing over him, more black and silver, and the sword came down again, and he rolled to the side, but he wasn’t fast enough this time and he felt it drive down into him. The agony was instant, clear and clean as the blade slammed into his shoulder. It was like being electrified—Jace felt the pain through his entire body, his muscles contracting, his back arcing off the ground. Heat seared through him, as if his bones were being fused to charcoal. Flame gathered and coursed through his veins, up his spine— He saw Sebastian’s eyes widen, and in their darkness he saw himself reflected, sprawled on the red-black ground, and his shoulder was burning. Flames licked up from the wound like blood. They sparked upward, and a single spark ran up along the Morgenstern blade, blazing into the hilt. Sebastian swore and jerked his hand back as if he had been stabbed. The sword clanged to the ground; he lifted his hand and stared at it. And even through his daze of pain, Jace could see that there was a black mark, a burn across the palm of Sebastian’s hand, in the shape of the grip of a sword. Jace began to struggle up onto his elbows, though the movement sent a wave of pain through his shoulder so severe, he thought he might pass out. His vision darkened; when it came back again, Sebastian was standing over him with a snarl twisting his features, the Morgenstern sword back in his hand—and the two of them were surrounded by a ring of figures. Women, gowned in white like Greek oracles, their eyes leaping orange flames. Their faces were tattooed with masks, as delicate and winding as vines. They were beautiful and terrible. They were Iron Sisters. Each of them held a sword of adamas, point-down. They were silent, their mouths set in grim lines. Between two of them stood the Silent Brother whom Jace had seen earlier, fighting on the plain, his wooden staff in hand. “In six hundred years we have not abandoned our Citadel,” said one of the Sisters, a tall woman whose hair fell in black ropes to her waist. Her eyes blazed, twin furnaces in the darkness. “But the heavenly fire calls us, and we come. Move away from Jace Lightwood, Valentine’s son. Harm him again, and we destroy you. ” “Neither Jace Lightwood nor the fire in his veins will save you, Cleophas,” Sebastian said, sword still in hand. His voice was steady. “The Nephilim have no savior. ” “You did not know to fear the heavenly fire. Now you do,” said Cleophas. “Time to retreat, boy. ” The tip of the Morgenstern sword lowered toward Jace—lowered—and with a cry Sebastian lunged forward. The sword whistled past Jace and buried itself in the earth. The earth seemed to howl as if mortally wounded. A tremor ripped through the ground, spreading out from the tip of the Morgenstern sword. Jace’s vision was coming and going, consciousness bleeding out of him like the fire that bled from his wound, but even as the darkness came down, he saw the triumph on Sebastian’s face, and heard him begin to laugh as with a sudden terrible wrenching the earth tore itself apart. A great black rift opened beside them. Sebastian leaped into it and vanished. “It’s not that simple, Alec,” Jia said tiredly. “Portal magic is complicated, and we’ve heard nothing from the Iron Sisters to indicate that they need our assistance. Besides, after what happened in London earlier today, we need to be here, on alert—” “I’m telling you, I know,” Alec said. He was shivering, despite his gear. It was cold on the Gard Hill, but it was more than that. In part it was shock, at what Isabelle had said to his parents, at the look on his father’s face. But more of it was apprehension. Cold foreboding was dripping down his spine like ice. “You don’t understand the Endarkened; you don’t understand what they’re like—” He doubled over. Something hot had lanced through him, through his shoulder down through his guts, like a spear of fire. He hit the ground on his knees, crying out. “Alec—Alec!” The Consul’s hands were on his shoulders. He was distantly aware of his parents running toward him. His vision swam with agony. Pain, overlapping and doubled because it wasn’t his pain at all; the sparks under his rib cage didn’t burn in his body but in someone else’s. “Jace,” he ground out between his teeth. “Something’s happened—the fire. You have to open a Portal, quickly. ” Amatis, flat on her back on the ground, laughed. “You won’t kill me,” she said. “You haven’t got the backbone. ” Clary, breathing hard, nudged the tip of the sword under Amatis’s chin. “You don’t know what I’m capable of. ” “Look at me. ” Amatis’s eyes glittered. “Look at me and tell me what you see. ” Clary looked, already knowing. Amatis didn’t look exactly like her brother, but she had the same jawline, the same trustworthy blue eyes, the same brown hair touched with gray. “Mercy,” Amatis said, raising her hands as if to ward off Clary’s blow. “Will you give it to me?” Mercy. Clary stood frozen, even as Amatis looked up at her with obvious amusement. Goodness is not kindness, and there is nothing crueler than virtue. She knew she should cut Amatis’s throat, wanted to, even, but how to tell Luke she had killed his sister? Killed his sister while she’d lain on the ground, begging for mercy? Clary felt her own hand shake, as if it were disconnected from her body. Around her the sounds of battle had dimmed: she could hear shouts and murmurs but didn’t dare turn her head away to see what was going on. She was focused on Amatis, on her own grip on the hilt of Heosphoros, of the thin trickle of blood that ran from beneath Amatis’s chin, where the tip of Clary’s sword had pierced the skin— The earth erupted. Clary’s boots slipped in the snow, and she was flung to the side; she rolled, barely managing not to slice herself on her own blade. The fall knocked the breath from her, but she scrambled back, clutching Heosphoros as the ground shook around her. Earthquake, she thought wildly. She clutched at a rock with her free hand as Amatis rolled to her knees, looking around with a predatory grin. There were screams all around, and an awful ripping noise. As Clary stared in horror, the ground tore itself in half, a massive crack opening in the earth. Rocks, dirt, and jagged chunks of ice rained down into the gap as Clary scrambled to get away from it. It was widening quickly, the jagged crack becoming a vast chasm with sheer sides that dropped away into shadow. The ground was beginning to stop shaking. Clary heard Amatis laugh. She looked up and saw the older woman rise to her feet, grinning mockingly at Clary. “Give my brother all my love,” Amatis called, and jumped into the chasm. Clary jolted to her feet, her heart pounding, and ran to the edge of the crack. She stared down over it. She could see only a few feet of sheer earth and then darkness—and shadows, moving shadows. She turned to see that everywhere across the battlefield the Endarkened were running toward the chasm and leaping into it. They reminded her of Olympic divers, sure and determined, confident of their landing. The Nephilim were scrambling to get away from the chasm as their red-clad enemies dashed past them, throwing themselves into the pit. Clary’s gaze tracked among them, anxious, looking for one particular black-clad figure, one head of bright hair. She stopped. There, just at the right of the chasm, some distance from her, were a group of women dressed in white. The Iron Sisters. Through gaps between them, Clary could see a figure on the ground, and another, this one in parchment robes, bent over him— She broke into a run. She knew she shouldn’t run with an unsheathed blade, but she didn’t care. She pounded across the snow, darting out of the way of running Endarkened, weaving through the Nephilim, and here the snow was bloody and soaked and slippery, but she ran on anyway, until she burst through the circle of the Iron Sisters and reached Jace. He was on the ground, and her heart, which had felt as if it were exploding inside her chest, slowed its beating slightly when she saw that his eyes were open. He was very pale, though, and breathing harshly enough that she could hear it. The Silent Brother was kneeling next to him, long pale fingers unsnapping the gear at Jace’s shoulder. “What’s going on?” Clary asked, looking around wildly. A dozen Iron Sisters gazed back, impassive and silent. There were more Iron Sisters as well, on the other side of the chasm, watching unmoving as the Endarkened threw themselves into it. It was eerie. “What happened?” “Sebastian,” Jace said through gritted teeth, and she dropped down beside him, across from the Silent Brother, as his gear peeled away and she saw the gash in his shoulder. “Sebastian happened. ” The wound was weeping fire. Not blood but fire, tinged gold like the ichor of angels. Clary took a ragged breath and looked up to see Brother Zachariah looking back at her. She caught a single glimpse of his face, all angles and pallor and scars, before he drew a stele from his robe. Instead of setting it to Jace’s skin, as she would have expected, he set it to his own and carved a rune into his palm. He did it quickly, but Clary could feel the power that came from the rune. It made her shudder. Stay still. This will end the hurt, he said in his soft omnidirectional whisper, and placed his hand over the fiery gash on Jace’s shoulder. Jace cried out. His body half-lifted off the ground, and the fire that had bled like slow tears from his wound rose as if gasoline had been poured on it, searing up Brother Zachariah’s arm. Wildfire consumed the parchment sleeve of Zachariah’s robe; the Silent Brother jerked away, but not before Clary saw that the blaze was rising, consuming him. In the depths of the flame, as it wavered and crackled, Clary saw a shape—the shape of a rune that looked like two wings joined by a single bar. A rune she had seen before, standing on a rooftop in Manhattan: the first rune not from the Gray Book that she had ever visualized. It flickered and disappeared, so quickly that she wondered if she had imagined it. It seemed to be a rune that appeared to her in times of stress and panic, but what did it mean? Was it meant to be a way to help Jace—or Brother Zachariah? The Silent Brother fell back silently into the snow, collapsing like a burned tree shivering to ashes. A murmur tore through the ranks of the Iron Sisters. Whatever was happening to Brother Zachariah, it wasn’t supposed to be happening. Something had gone horribly wrong. The Iron Sisters moved toward their fallen brother. They blocked Clary’s view of Zachariah as she reached for Jace. He was bucking and spasming on the ground, his eyes closed, his head tilted back. She looked around wildly. Through the gaps between the Iron Sisters she could see Brother Zachariah, thrashing on the ground: His body was shimmering, sizzling with fire. A cry burst from his throat—a human noise, the cry of a man in pain, not the silent mind-whisper of the Brothers. Sister Cleophas caught at him—parchment robes and fire, and Clary could hear the Sister’s voice rising, “Zachariah, Zachariah—” But he was not the only one wounded. Some of the Nephilim were grouped around Jace, but many of the others were with their injured comrades, administering healing runes, searching their gear for bandages. “Clary,” Jace whispered. He was trying to struggle up onto his elbows, but they wouldn’t hold him. “Brother Zachariah—what’s happened? What did I do to him—” “Nothing. Jace. Lie still. ” Clary sheathed her blade and fumbled his stele from his weapons belt with numb fingers. She reached to press the tip to his skin, but he writhed away from her, his body jerking. “No,” he gasped. His eyes were huge and burning gold. “Don’t touch me. I’ll hurt you, too. ” “You won’t. ” Desperate, she threw herself on top of him, the weight of her body bearing him backward into the snow. She reached for his shoulder as he twisted under her, his clothes and skin blood-slippery and fire-hot. Her knees slid to either side of his hips as she threw her full weight against his chest, pinning him down. “Jace,” she said. “Jace, please. ” But his eyes wouldn’t focus on her, his hands spasming against the ground. “Jace,” she said, and put the stele to his skin, just over his wound. And she was on the ship again with her father, with Valentine, and she was throwing everything she had, every bit of strength, every last atom of will and energy into crafting a rune, a rune that would burn down the world, that would reverse death, that would make the oceans fly up into the sky. Only, this time it was the simplest of runes, the rune every Shadowhunter learned in their first year of training: Heal me. The iratze took shape on Jace’s shoulder, the color spiraling from the tip so black that the light coming from the stars and the Citadel seemed to vanish into it. Clary could feel her own energy vanishing into it too as she drew. Never had she felt more like the stele was an extension of her own veins, that she was writing in her own blood, as if all the energy in her was being drawn out through her hand and fingers, her vision darkening as she fought to keep the stele steady, to finish the rune. The last thing she saw was the great burning whirl of a Portal, opening onto the impossible sight of Angel Square, before she slid into nothingness.