City of lost souls – Chapter 13: The Bone Chandelier

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Chapter 13: The Bone Chandelier

As the serpents head drove down toward Clary, a shining blur slashed across it, almost blinding her. A seraph blade, its shimmering knife edge slicing the demons head cleanly off. The head crumpled, spraying venom and ichor; Clary rolled to one side, but some of the toxic substance splattered onto her torso. The demon vanished before its two halves could strike the floor. Clary bit down on her cry of pain and moved to get to her feet. A hand was suddenly thrust into her field of vision-an offer to pull her to her feet. Jace, she thought, but as she looked up, she realized she was staring at her brother.

“Come on,” said Sebastian, his hand still out. “There are more of them. ”

She grabbed his hand and let him lift her to her feet. He was splattered with demon blood too-blackish-green stuff that burned where it touched, leaving scorched patches on his clothing. As she stared at him, one of the snake-headed things-Elapid demons, she realized belatedly, remembering an illustration in a book-reared up behind him, its neck flattening out like a cobras. Without thinking, Clary grabbed his shoulder and shoved him out of the way, hard; he staggered back as the demon struck, and Clary rose to meet it with the dagger she had yanked from her belt. She turned her body aside as she drove the dagger home, avoiding the creatures fangs; its hiss turned to a gurgle as the blade sank in and she dragged it down, gutting the creature open the way someone might gut a fish. Burning demon blood exploded over her hand in a hot torrent. She screamed but kept her grip on the dagger as the Elapid winked out of existence.

She whirled around. Sebastian was fighting another of the Elapids by the door of the shop; Jace was fending off two next to a display of antique ceramics. Shards of pottery littered the floor. Clary swung her arm back and threw the dagger, as Jace had taught her to. It soared through the air and struck one of the creatures in the side, sending it jittering and squeaking away from Jace. Jace whirled around and, seeing her, winked before reaching up to scissor off the head of the remaining Elapid demon. Its body collapsed as it vanished and Jace, splattered in black blood, grinned.

A surge of something went through Clary-a sense of buzzing elation. Both Jace and Isabelle had spoken to her of the high of battle, but shed never really experienced it before. Now she did. She felt all-powerful, her veins humming, strength uncoiling from the base of her spine. Everything seemed to have slowed down around her. She watched as the injured Elapid demon spun and turned on her, racing toward her on its insectile feet, lips already curling back from its fangs. She stepped back, yanked the antique flag from its mounting place on the wall, and slammed the end of it into the Elapids open, gaping mouth. The pole punched out through the back of the creatures skull, and the Elapid disappeared, taking the flag with it.

Clary laughed out loud. Sebastian, who had just finished off another demon, swung around at the noise, and his eyes widened. “Clary! Stop him!” he shouted, and she spun around to see Mirek, his hands fumbling at a door set into the back of the shop.

She broke into a run, yanking the seraph blade from her belt as she went. “Nakir!” she cried, vaulting up onto the counter, and she flung herself from the top of it as her weapon exploded into brightness. She landed on the Vetis demon, knocking him to the ground. One of his eel-like arms snapped at her, and she sliced it off with a sawing motion of her blade. More black blood sprayed. The demon looked at her with red, frightened eyes.

“Stop,” he wheezed. “I could give you whatever you want-”

“I have everything I want,” she whispered, and drove her seraph blade down. It plunged into the demons chest, and Mirek disappeared with a hollow cry. Clary thumped to her knees on the carpet.

A moment later two heads appeared over the side of the counter, staring down at her-one golden-blond and one silver-blond. Jace and Sebastian. Jace was wide-eyed; Sebastian looked pale. “Name of the Angel, Clary,” he breathed. “The adamas-”

“Oh, that stuff you wanted? Its right here. ” It had rolled partly under the counter. Clary held it up now, a luminous chunk of silver, smeared where her bloody hands had touched it.

Sebastian swore with relief and grabbed the adamas out of her hands as Jace vaulted over the counter in a single movement and landed beside Clary. He knelt down and pulled her close, running his hands over her, his eyes dark with concern. She caught at his wrists.

“Im all right,” she said. Her heart was pounding, her blood still singing in her veins. He opened his mouth to say something, but she leaned forward and put her hands on either side of his face, her nails digging in. “I feel good. ” She looked at him, rumpled and sweaty and bloody as he was, and wanted to kiss him. She wanted-

“All right, you two,” said Sebastian. Clary pulled away from Jace and glanced up at her brother. He was grinning down at them, lazily spinning the adamas in one hand. “Tomorrow we use this,” he said, nodding toward it. “But tonight-once were cleaned up a little-we celebrate. ”

Simon padded barefoot out into the living room, Isabelle behind him, to find a surprising tableau. The circle and the pentagram in the center of the floor were shining with a bright silver light, like mercury. Smoke rose from the center of it, a tall black-red column, tipped with white. The whole room smelled of burning. Magnus and Alec stood outside the circle, and with them Jordan and Maia, who-given the coats and hats they were wearing-looked as if they had just arrived.

“Whats going on?” Isabelle asked, stretching her long limbs with a yawn. “Why is everyone watching the Pentagram Channel?”

“Just hang on a second,” Alec said grimly. “Youll see. ”

Isabelle shrugged and added her gaze to the others. As everyone watched, the white smoke began to swirl, fast and then faster, a mini-tornado that tore across the center of the pentagram, leaving words behind it spelled out in scorch marks:

HAVE YOU MADE YOUR DECISION YET?

“Huh,” Simon said. “Has it been doing that all morning?”

Magnus threw his arms up. He was wearing leather pants and a shirt with a zigzag metallic lightning bolt on it. “All night, too. ”

“Just asking the same question over and over?”

“No, it says different things. Sometimes it swears. Azazel appears to be having some fun. ”

“Can it hear us?” Jordan cocked his head to the side. “Hey, there, demon guy. ”

The fiery letters rearranged themselves. HELLO, WEREWOLF.

Jordan took a step back and looked at Magnus. “Is this. . . normal?”

Magnus seemed deeply unhappy. “It is most decidedly not normal. I have never called up a demon as powerful as Azazel, but even so-Ive been through the literature, and I cant find an example of this happening before. Its getting out of control. ”

“Azazel must be sent back,” Alec said. “Like, permanently sent back. ” He shook his head. “Maybe Jocelyn was right. No good can come from summoning demons. ”

“Im pretty sure I came from someone summoning a demon,” Magnus noted. “Alec, Ive done this hundreds of times. I dont know why this time would be different. ”

“Azazel cant get out, can he?” said Isabelle. “Of the pentagram, I mean. ”

“No,” said Magnus, “but he shouldnt be able to be doing any of the other things hes doing either. ”

Jordan leaned forward, his hands on his blue-jeaned knees. “Whats it like being in Hell, dude?” he asked. “Hot or cold? Ive heard both. ”

There was no reply.

“Good job, Jordan,” said Maia. “I think you annoyed him. ”

Jordan poked at the edge of the pentagram. “Can it tell the future? So, pentagram, is our band going to make it big?”

“Its a demon from Hell, not a Magic Eight Ball, Jordan,” said Magnus irritably. “And stay away from the borders of the pentagram. Summon a demon and trap it in a pentagram, and it cant get out to harm you. But step into the pentagram, and youve put yourself in the demons range of power-”

At that moment the pillar of smoke began to coalesce. Magnuss head whipped up, and Alec stood, almost knocking over his chair, as the smoke took on the form of Azazel. His suit formed first-a gray and silver pinstripe, with elegant cuffs-and then he seemed to fill it out, his flame eyes the last thing to appear. He looked around him in evident pleasure. “The gangs all here, I see,” he said. “So, have you come to a decision?”

“We have,” said Magnus. “I dont believe well be requiring your services. Thanks anyway. ”

There was a silence.

“You can go now. ” Magnus wiggled his fingers in a goodbye wave. “Ta. ”

“I dont think so,” Azazel said pleasantly, whipping out his handkerchief and buffing his nails with it. “I think Ill stay. I like it here. ”

Magnus sighed and said something to Alec, who went to the table and returned carrying a book, which he handed to the warlock. Magnus flipped it open and began to read. “Damned spirit, begone. Return thou to the realm of smoke and flame, of ash and-”

“That wont work on me,” said the demon in a bored voice. “Go ahead and try, if you like. Ill still be here. ”

Magnus looked at him with eyes smoldering with rage. “You cant force us to bargain with you. ”

“I can try. Its hardly as if I have anything better to occupy-”

Azazel broke off as a familiar shape streaked through the room. It was Chairman Meow, hot on the heels of what looked like a mouse. As everyone watched in surprise and horror, the small cat dashed through the outline of the pentagram-and Simon, acting on instinct rather than rational thought, jumped into the pentagram after him and scooped him up into his arms.

“Simon!” He knew without turning around that it was Isabelle, her cry reflexive. He turned to look at her as she clapped her hand over her mouth and looked at him with wide eyes. They were all staring. Izzys face was drained white with horror, and even Magnus looked unsettled.

Summon a demon and trap it in a pentagram, and it cant get out to harm you. But step into the pentagram, and youve put yourself in the demons range of power.

Simon felt a tap on his shoulder. He dropped Chairman Meow as he turned, and the small cat streaked out of the pentagram and across the room to hide under a sofa. Simon looked up. The massive face of Azazel loomed over him. This close, he could see the cracks in the demons skin, like cracks in marble, and the flames deep in Azazels pitted eyes. When Azazel smiled, Simon saw that each of his teeth was tipped with a needle of iron.

Azazel exhaled. A cloud of hot sulfur spread around Simon. He was dimly aware of Magnuss voice, rising and falling in a chant, and Isabelle screaming something as the demons hands clamped around his arms. Azazel lifted Simon off the ground so his feet were dangling in the air-and threw him.

Or tried to. His hands slipped off Simon; Simon dropped to the ground in a crouch as Azazel shot backward and seemed to hit an invisible barrier. There was a sound like stone shattering. Azazel slid to his knees, then painfully rose to his feet. He looked up with a roar, teeth flashing, and stalked toward Simon-who, realizing belatedly what was going on, reached up with a shaking hand and pushed the hair back from his forehead.

Azazel stopped in his tracks. His hands, the nails tipped with the same sharp iron as his teeth, curled in toward his sides. “Wanderer,” he breathed. “Is it you?”

Simon stayed frozen. Magnus was still chanting softly in the background, but everyone else was silent. Simon was afraid to look around, to catch the eye of any of his friends. Clary and Jace, he thought, had already seen the work of the Mark, its blazing fire. No one else had. No wonder they were wordless.

“No,” Azazel said, his fiery eyes narrowing. “No, you are too young, and the world too old. But who would dare place Heavens mark on a vampire? And why?”

Simon lowered his hand. “Touch me again and find out,” he said.

Azazel gave a rumbling sound-half laughter, half disgust. “I think not,” he said. “If you have been dabbling in bending the will of Heaven, even my freedom is not worth gambling for by allying my fate with yours. ” He glanced around the room. “You are all madmen. Good luck, human children. You will need it. ”

And he vanished in a burst of flame, leaving searing black smoke-and the stink of sulfur-behind.

“Hold still,” Jace said, taking the Herondale dagger in his hand and using the tip of it to slice Clarys shirt open from the collar to the hem. He took the two halves of it and pushed them gingerly off her shoulders, leaving her sitting on the edge of the sink in just her jeans and a camisole. Most of the ichor and venom had gotten on her jeans and coat, but the fragile silk shirt was trashed. Jace dropped it into the sink, where it sizzled in the water, and applied his stele to her shoulder, tracing the outlines of the healing rune lightly.

She closed her eyes, feeling the burn of the rune, and then a rush as the relief from pain spread up her arms and down her back. It was like Novocain, but without making her numb.

“Better?” Jace asked.

She opened her eyes. “Much. ” It wasnt perfect-the irazte didnt have much effect on burns caused by demon venom, but those tended to heal quickly on Shadowhunter skin. As it was, they stung only a little, and Clary, still feeling the high of the battle, barely noticed it. “Your turn?”

He grinned and offered her the stele. They were in the back of the antiques store. Sebastian had gone to lock up and dim the lights up front, lest they attract mundane attention. He was excited about “celebrating” and when he had left them, had been debating whether to go back to the apartment and change, or straight to the nightclub in the Mala Strana.

If there was a part of Clary that felt the wrongness of it, the idea of celebrating anything, it was lost in the humming of her blood. Amazing that it had taken fighting alongside Sebastian of all people to flip the switch inside her that seemed to turn her Shadowhunter instincts on. She wanted to leap tall buildings in a single bound, do a hundred flips, learn to scissor her blades the way Jace did. Instead she took the stele from him and said, “Take your shirt off, then. ”

He pulled it over his head, and she tried to look unaffected. He had a long cut along his side, angry purple-red along the edges, and the burns of demon blood across his collarbone and right shoulder. Still, he was the most beautiful person she had ever known. Pale gold skin, broad shoulders, narrow waist and hips, that thin line of golden hair that ran from his navel to the waistband of his jeans. She pulled her eyes away from him and set the stele to his shoulder, industriously carving into his skin what had to be the millionth healing rune hed ever gotten.

“Good?” she asked when she was finished.

“Mmm-hmm. ” He leaned in, and she could smell the scent of him-blood and charcoal, sweat, and the cheap soap theyd found by the sink. “I liked that,” he said. “Didnt you? Fighting together like that?”

“It was. . . intense. ” He was standing between her legs already; he moved closer, fingers looping into the waistband of her jeans. Her hands fluttered to his shoulders, and she saw the gleam of the gold leaf-ring on her finger. It sobered her slightly. Dont get distracted; dont get lost in this. This isnt Jace, isnt Jace, isnt Jace.

His lips brushed hers. “I thought it was incredible. You were incredible. ”

“Jace,” she whispered, and then there was a banging on the door. Jace let go of her in surprise, and she slid backward, knocking into the faucet, which immediately turned on, spraying them both with water. She yelped with surprise, and Jace burst out laughing, turning to throw the door open as Clary twisted around to turn the faucet off.

It was Sebastian, of course. He looked remarkably clean, considering what theyd been through. Hed discarded his stained leather jacket in favor of an antique military coat, which, thrown over his T-shirt, lent him a look of thrift-store chic. He was carrying something in his hands, something black and shiny.

He raised his eyebrows.

“Is there a reason you just threw my sister into the sink?”

“I was sweeping her off her feet,” said Jace, bending down to grab his shirt. He yanked it back on. Like Sebastians, his outerwear had sustained most of the damage, though there was a rip down the side of the shirt where a demons claw had slashed through.

“I brought you something to wear,” said Sebastian, handing the shiny black thing to Clary, who had wriggled out of the sink and was now standing, dripping soapy water onto the tiled floor. “Its vintage. It looks about your size. ”

Startled, Clary handed Jace back his stele and took the proffered garment. It was a dress-a slip, really-jet-black, with elaborately beaded straps and a lace hem. The straps were adjustable, and the fabric was stretchy enough that she suspected Sebastian was right, it probably would fit her. Part of her didnt like the idea of wearing something Sebastian had picked, but she couldnt exactly go out to a club in an unraveling camisole and a pair of soaking-wet jeans. “Thanks,” she said finally. “All right, both of you get out of here while I change. ”

They left, closing the door behind them. She could hear them, raised boys voices, and though she couldnt hear the words, she could tell they were joking with each other. Comfortably. Familiarly. It was so strange, she thought as she shucked off her jeans and cami and slipped the dress over her head. Jace, who hardly ever opened up to anyone, was laughing and joking around with Sebastian.

She turned to look at herself in the mirror. The black washed the color out of her skin, made her eyes look big and dark and her hair redder, her arms and legs long and thin and pale. Her eyes were smudged with dark shadow. The boots she had been wearing under her jeans added a certain toughness to the outfit. She wasnt sure if she looked pretty exactly, but she sure looked like she was someone who shouldnt be messed with.

She wondered if Isabelle would approve.

She unlocked the bathroom door and stepped out. She was in the dim back of the store, where all the junk that wasnt housed up front had been tossed carelessly. A velvet curtain separated it from the rest of the establishment. Jace and Sebastian were on the other side of the curtain, talking, though she still couldnt make out the words. She pulled the curtain aside and stepped out.

The lights were on, though the metal awning had been lowered over the glass front of the store, rendering the inside invisible to passersby. Sebastian was going through the stuff on the shelves, his long careful hands taking down object after object, subjecting them to a cursory inspection, and placing them back on the shelf.

Jace was the first one to see Clary. She saw his eyes spark, and remembered the first time he had seen her dressed up, wearing Isabelles clothes, on her way to Magnuss party. As they had then, his eyes traveled slowly from the boots, up her legs, hips, waist, chest, and came to rest on her face. He smiled lazily.

“I could point out that thats not a dress, thats underwear,” he said, “but I doubt it would be in my best interest. ”

“Need I remind you,” said Sebastian, “that that is my sister?”

“Most brothers would be delighted to see such a clean-cut gentleman as myself squiring their sisters about town,” said Jace, grabbing an army jacket off one of the racks and sliding his arms into it.

“Squiring?” Clary echoed. “Next youll be telling me youre a rogue and a rake. ”

“And then its pistols at dawn,” said Sebastian, striding toward the velvet curtain. “Ill be right back. Ive got to wash the blood out of my hair. ”

“Fussy, fussy,” Jace called after him with a grin, then reached for Clary and pulled her against him. His voice dropped to a low whisper. “Remember when we went to Magnuss party? You came out into the lobby with Isabelle, and Simon almost had an apoplectic fit?”

“Funny, I was thinking about the same thing. ” She tipped her head back to look up at him. “I dont remember you saying anything at the time about the way I looked. ”

His fingers slid under the straps of her slip dress, the tips brushing her skin. “I didnt think you liked me much. And I didnt think a detailed description of all the things I wanted to do to you, delivered in front of an audience, would have been the thing to change your mind. ”

“You didnt think I liked you?” Her voice rose incredulously. “Jace, when has a girl ever not liked you?”

He shrugged. “Doubtless the lunatic asylums of the world are filled with unfortunate women who have failed to see my charms. ”

A question hovered on the tip of her tongue, one she had always wanted to ask him but never had. After all, what did it really matter what hed done before he met her? As if he could read the expression on her face, his golden eyes softened slightly.

“I never cared what girls thought about me,” he said. “Not before you. ”

Before you. Clarys voice shook a little. “Jace, I wondered-”

“Your verbal foreplay is boring and annoying,” said Sebastian, reappearing around the velvet curtain, his silver hair damp and tousled. “Ready to go?”

Clary stepped free of Jace, blushing; Jace looked unruffled. “Were the ones whove been waiting for you. ”

“Looks like you found a way to pass the agonizing time. Now come on. Lets go. Im telling you, youre going to love this place. ”

“I am never getting my security deposit back,” said Magnus glumly. He sat on top of the table, among the pizza boxes and coffee mugs, watching as the rest of Team Good did their best to clean up the destruction left by Azazels appearance-the smoking holes pocked into the walls, the sulfurous black goo dripping from the ceiling pipes, the ash and other grainy black substances ground into the floor. Chairman Meow was stretched across the warlocks lap, purring. Magnus was off cleaning duty because hed allowed his apartment to be half-destroyed; Simon was off cleaning duty because after the pentagram incident no one seemed to know quite what to make of him. Hed tried to talk to Isabelle, but shed only shaken her mop at him in a threatening manner.

“I have an idea,” Simon said. He was sitting next to Magnus, his elbows on his knees. “But youre not going to like it. ”

“I have a feeling youre right, Sherwin. ”

“Simon. My name is Simon. ”

“Whatever. ” Magnus waved a slender hand. “Whats your idea?”

“Ive got the Mark of Cain,” said Simon. “That means nothing can kill me, right?”

“You can kill yourself,” Magnus said, somewhat unhelpfully. “As far as I know, inanimate objects can accidentally kill you. So if you were planning on teaching yourself the lambada on a greased platform over a pit full of knives, I wouldnt. ”

“There goes my Saturday. ”

“But nothing else can kill you,” Magnus said. His eyes had drifted away from Simon, and he was watching Alec, who appeared to be battling a Swiffer. “Why?”

“What happened in the pentagram, with Azazel, made me think,” said Simon. “You said summoning angels is more dangerous than summoning demons, because they might smite down the person who summoned them, or scorch them with heavenly fire. But if I did it. . . ” His voice trailed off. “Well, Id be safe, wouldnt I?”

That snapped Magnuss attention back. “You? Summon an angel?”

“You could show me how,” said Simon. “I know Im not a warlock, but Valentine did it. If he did it, shouldnt I be able to? I mean, there are humans who can do magic. ”

“I couldnt promise youd live,” Magnus said, but there was a spark of interest in his voice that belied the warning. “The Mark is Heavens protection, but does it protect you against Heaven itself? I dont know the answer. ”

“I didnt think you did. But you agree that out of all of us I probably have the best chance, right?”

Magnus looked over at Maia, who was splashing dirty water at Jordan and laughing as he twisted away, yelping. She pushed her curling hair back, leaving a dark streak of dirt across her forehead. She looked young. “Yes,” Magnus said reluctantly. “Probably you do. ”

“Who is your father?” asked Simon.

Magnuss eyes went back to Alec. They were gold-green, as unreadable as the eyes of the cat he held on his lap. “Not my favorite topic, Smedley. ”

“Simon,” said Simon. “If Im going to die for you all, the least you could do is remember my name. ”

“Youre not dying for me,” said Magnus. “If it werent for Alec, Id be. . . ”

“Youd be where?”

“I had a dream,” Magnus said, his eyes distant. “I saw a city all of blood, with towers made of bone, and blood ran in the streets like water. Maybe you can save Jace, Daylighter, but you cant save the world. The darkness is coming. A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness. If it werent for Alec, Id be gone from here. ”

“Where would you go?”

“Hide. Wait for it to blow over. Im not a hero. ” Magnus picked up Chairman Meow and dumped him onto the floor.

“You love Alec enough to stick around,” said Simon. “Thats kind of heroic. ”

“You loved Clary enough to wreck your whole life for her,” said Magnus with a bitterness that was not characteristic of him. “See where that got you. ” He raised his voice. “All right, everybody. Get over here. Sheldons had an idea. ”

“Whos Sheldon?” said Isabelle.

The streets of Prague were cold and dark, and though Clary kept her ichor-burned coat wrapped around her shoulders, she found the icy air cutting into the buzzing hum in her veins, muting the leftover high from the battle. She bought a cup of hot wine to keep the buzz going, wrapping her hands around it for warmth as she, Jace, and Sebastian lost themselves in a twisting labyrinth of ever narrower, ever darker ancient streets. There were no street signs or names, and no other pedestrians; the only constant was the moon moving through thick clouds overhead. At last a shallow flight of stone steps took them down into a tiny square, one side of which was lit by a flashing neon sign that said KOSTI LUSTR. Below the sign was an open door, a blank spot in the wall that looked like a missing tooth.

“What does that mean, Kosti Lustr?” Clary asked.

“It means The Bone Chandelier. Its the name of the nightclub,” said Sebastian, sauntering forward. His pale hair reflected the changing neon colors of the sign: hot red, cold blue, metallic gold. “You coming?”

A wall of sound and light hit Clary the moment she entered the club. It was a big, tightly packed space that looked like it had once been the interior of a church. She could still see stained-glass windows high up in the walls. Darting colored spotlights picked out the blissed-out faces of dancers in the churning crowd, lighting them up one at a time: hot pink, neon green, burning violet. There was a DJ booth along one wall, and trance music blasted from the speakers. The music pounded up through her feet, into her blood, vibrating her bones. The room was hot with the press of bodies and the smell of sweat and smoke and beer.

She was about to turn and ask Jace if he wanted to dance, when she felt a hand on her back. It was Sebastian. She tensed but didnt pull away. “Come on,” he said into her ear. “Were not staying up here with the hoi polloi. ”

His hand was like iron pressing against her spine. She let him propel her forward, through the dancers; the crowd seemed to part to let them through, people looking up to glance at Sebastian, then dropping their gazes, backing away. The heat increased, and Clary was almost gasping by the time they reached the far side of the room. There was an archway there that she hadnt noticed before. A set of worn stone steps led downward, curving away into darkness.

She glanced up as Sebastian took his hand away from her back. Light blazed around them. Jace had taken out his witchlight rune-stone. He grinned at her, his face all angles and shadows in the harsh, focused light.

“Easy is the descent,” he said.

Clary shivered. She knew the whole phrase. Easy is the descent into Hell.

“Come on. ” Sebastian jerked his head, and then he was moving downward, graceful and sure-footed, not worried about slipping on the age-smoothed stones. Clary followed a little more slowly. The air grew cooler as they went down, and the sound of the pounding music faded. She could hear their breathing, and see their shadows thrown, distorted and spindly, against the walls.

She heard the new music before they reached the bottom of the stairs. It had an even more insistent beat than the music in the club upstairs; it shot through her ears and into her veins and spun her around. She was almost dizzy by the time they reached the last of the stairs and stepped out into a massive room that stole her breath.

Everything was stone, the walls bumpy and uneven, the floor smooth beneath their feet. A massive statue of a black-winged angel rose along the far wall, its head lost in shadows far above, its wings dripping strings of garnets that looked like drops of blood. Explosions of color and light burst like cherry bombs throughout the room, nothing like the artificial light upstairs-these were beautiful, sparkling like fireworks, and every time one burst, it rained down a glittering shimmer onto the dancing crowd below. Huge marble fountains sprayed sparkling water; black rose petals drifted onto the surface. And far above everything, dangling down above the packed floor of dancers on a long golden cord, was a massive chandelier made of bones.

It was as intricate as it was gruesome. The main body of the chandelier was formed by spinal columns, fused together; femurs and tibias dripped like decoration from the arms of the fixture, which swooped up to cradle human skulls, each holding a massive taper. Black wax dripped like demon blood to spatter on the dancers below, none of whom seemed to notice. And the dancers themselves-whirling and spinning and clapping-none of them were human.

“Werewolves and vampires,” said Sebastian, answering Clarys unasked question. “In Prague theyre allies. This is where they. . . relax. ” A hot breeze was blowing through the room, like desert wind; it lifted his silvery hair and blew it across his eyes, hiding their expression.

Clary wriggled out of her coat and held it pressed against her chest almost like a shield. She looked around with wide eyes. She could sense the nonhuman-ness of the others in the room, the vampires with their pallor and their swift and languid grace, the werewolves fierce and fast. Most were young, dancing close, writhing up and down each others bodies. “But-wont they mind us being here? Nephilim?”

“They know me,” said Sebastian. “And theyll know youre with me. ” He reached out and tugged the coat out of her grip. “Ill go get that hung up for you. ”

“Sebastian-,” But he was gone, into the crowd.

She looked at Jace beside her. He had his thumbs hooked into his belt and was looking around with casual interest. “Vampire coat check?” she said.

“Why not?” Jace smiled. “Youll notice he didnt offer to take my coat. Chivalry is dead, I tell you. ” He tipped his head to the side at her quizzical expression. “Whatever. Theres probably someone he has to talk to here. ”

“So this isnt just for fun?”

“Sebastian never does anything just for fun. ” Jace took her hands and pulled her toward him. “But I do. ”

To Simons complete lack of surprise, no one was enthusiastic about his plan. There was a loud chorus of disapproval, followed by a clamor of voices trying to talk him out of it, and questions, mostly directed at Magnus, about the safety of the whole enterprise. Simon rested his elbows on his knees and waited it out.

Eventually he felt a soft touch on his arm. He turned, and to his surprise it was Isabelle. She gestured at him to follow her.

They wound up in the shadows near one of the pillars as the argument raged behind them. Since Isabelle had initially been one of the loudest dissenters, he braced himself for her to yell at him. However, she only looked at him with her mouth tight. “Okay,” he said finally, hating the silence. “I guess youre not pleased with me right now. ”

“You guess? Id kick your butt, vampire, but I dont want to ruin my expensive new boots. ”

“Isabelle-”

“Im not your girlfriend. ”

“Right,” Simon said, though he couldnt help a twinge of disappointment. “I know that. ”

“And Ive never begrudged you the time youve spent with Clary. I even encouraged it. I know how much you care about her. And how much she cares about you. But this-this is an insane risk youre talking about taking. Are you sure?”

Simon looked around-at Magnuss messy apartment, the small group in the corner arguing about his fate. “This isnt just about Clary. ”

“Well, it isnt about your mother, is it?” Isabelle said. “That she called you a monster? You dont have anything to prove, Simon. Thats her problem, not yours. ”

“Its not like that. Jace saved my life. I owe him. ”

Isabelle looked surprised. “Youre not doing this just to pay Jace back, are you? Because I think by now everyones pretty even. ”

“No, not completely,” he said. “Look, we all know the situation. Sebastian cant be running around loose. It isnt safe. The Clave is right about that much. But if he dies, Jace dies. And if Jace dies, Clary. . . ”

“Shell survive,” Isabelle said, her voice quick and hard. “Shes tough and strong. ”

“Shell hurt. Maybe forever. I dont want her to hurt like that. I dont want you to hurt like that. ”

Isabelle crossed her arms. “Of course not. But do you think she wont be hurt, Simon, if something happens to you?”

Simon bit his lip. He actually hadnt thought about it. Not like that. “What about you?”

“What about me?”

“Will you be hurt if something happens to me?”

She kept looking at him, her back straight, her chin steady. But her eyes were shining. “Yes. ”

“But you want me to help Jace. ”

“Yes. I want that, too. ”

“You have to let me do this,” he said. “Its not just for Jace, or for you and Clary, though youre all a big part of it. Its because I believe darkness is coming. I believe Magnus when he says it. I believe Raphael is truly afraid of a war. I believe were seeing a small piece of Sebastians plan, but I dont think its any coincidence he took Jace with him when he went. Or that he and Jace are linked. He knows we need Jace to win a war. He knows what Jace is. ”

Isabelle didnt deny it. “Youre just as brave as Jace. ”

“Maybe,” said Simon. “But Im not Nephilim. I cant do what he can do. And I dont mean as much to as many people. ”

“Special destinies and special torments,” Isabelle whispered. “Simon-you mean a lot to me. ”

He reached out, and lightly cupped her cheek. “Youre a warrior, Iz. Its what you do. Its what you are. But if you cant fight Sebastian because hurting him would hurt Jace, you cant fight the war. And if you have to kill Jace to win the war, I think itll kill part of your soul. And I dont want to see that, not if I could do something to change it. ”

She swallowed. “Its not fair,” she said. “That it has to be you-”

“This is my choice, to do this. Jace doesnt have a choice. If he dies, its for something he didnt have anything to do with, not really. ”

Isabelle expelled a breath. She uncrossed her arms and took him by the elbow. “All right,” she said. “Lets go. ”

She steered him back toward the group, who broke off their argument and stared when she cleared her throat, as if they hadnt quite realized the two of them had been missing until this moment.

“Thats enough,” she said. “Simon has made his decision, and its his decision to make. Hes going to summon Raziel. And were going to help him in any way we can. ”

They danced. Clary tried to lose herself in the pounding beat of the music, the rush of blood in her veins, the way she had once been able to do at Pandemonium with Simon. Of course Simon had been a fairly terrible dancer, and Jace was an excellent dancer. She supposed it made sense. With all that trained fighting control and careful grace, there wasnt much he couldnt make his body do. When he flung his head back, his hair was dark with sweat, pasted to his temples, and the curve of his throat gleamed in the light of the bone chandelier.

She saw the way the other dancers looked at him-appreciation, speculation, predatory hunger. A possessiveness she couldnt name or control rose up inside her. She moved closer, sliding up his body the way shed seen girls do on the dance floor before but had never had the nerve to try herself. Shed always been convinced shed get her hair caught on someones belt buckle, but things were different now. Her months of training didnt pay off just in a fight, but any time she had to use her body. She felt fluid, in control, in a way she never had before. She pressed her body against Jaces.

His eyes had been closed; he opened them just as an explosion of colored light lit up the darkness above them. Metallic drops rained down on them; droplets were caught in Jaces hair and shimmering on his skin like mercury. He touched his fingers to a drop of silver liquid on his collarbone and showed it to her, his lips curving. “Do you remember what I told you that first time at Takis? About faerie food?”

“I remember you said you ran down Madison Avenue naked with antlers on your head,” said Clary, blinking silver drops off her lashes.

“I dont think that was ever proved to have actually been me. ” Only Jace could talk while he danced and not make it look awkward. “Well, this stuff”-and he flicked at the silvery liquid that mixed with his hair and skin, painting him in metal-“is like that. Itll get you. . . ”

“High?”

He watched her with darkened eyes. “It can be fun. ” Another of the drifting flower-things burst above their head; this spatter was silver-blue, like water. Jace licked a drop off the side of his hand, studying her.

High. Clary had never done drugs, didnt even drink. Maybe if you counted the bottle of Kahlúa she and Simon had smuggled out of his moms liquor cabinet and drunk when theyd been thirteen. Theyd been heartily sick afterward; Simon had, in fact, thrown up in a hedge. It hadnt been worth it, but she did remember the sensation of being dizzy and giggly and happy for no reason.

When Jace lowered his hand, his mouth was stained with silver. He was still watching her, gold eyes dark under his long lashes.

Happy for no reason.

She thought of the way they had been together in the time after the Mortal War before Lilith had begun to possess him. He had been the Jace in the photograph on his wall then: so happy. They both had been happy. There had been no nagging doubt when she looked at him, none of this feeling of tiny knives under her skin, eroding the closeness between them.

She leaned up then, and kissed him, slowly and definitively, on the lips.

Her mouth exploded with a sweet-sour taste, a mixture of wine and candy. More of the silvery liquid rained down on them as she pulled away from him, licking her mouth deliberately. Jace was breathing hard; he reached for her, but she spun away, laughing.

She felt wild and free suddenly, and incredibly light. She knew there was something terribly important she was supposed to be doing, but she couldnt remember what it was, or why she had cared. The faces of the dancers around her no longer looked vulpine and faintly frightening, but darkly beautiful. She was in a great echoing cavern, and the shadows around her were painted with colors lovelier and brighter than any sunset. The angel statue that loomed above her seemed benevolent, a thousand times more so than Raziel and his cold white light, and a high singing note sounded from it, pure and clear and perfect. She spun, faster and faster, leaving behind grief, memories, loss, until she spun into a pair of arms that snaked around her from behind and held her tight. She looked down and saw scarred hands locked around her waist, slim beautiful fingers, the Voyance rune. Jace. She melted back against him, closing her eyes, letting her head fall into the curve of his shoulder. She could feel his heart beating against her spine.

No one elses heart beat like Jaces did, or ever could.

Her eyes flew open, and she spun around, her hands out to push him away. “Sebastian,” she whispered. Her brother grinned down at her, silver and black like the Morgenstern ring.

“Clarissa,” he said. “I want to show you something. ”

No. The word came and went, dissolving like sugar into liquid. She couldnt remember why she was supposed to say no to him. He was her brother; she should love him. He had brought her to this beautiful place. Perhaps he had done bad things, but that was a long time ago and she could no longer remember what they were.

“I can hear angels singing,” she said to him.

He chuckled. “I see you found out that silvery stuff isnt just glitter. ” He reached forward and stroked his forefinger across her cheekbone; it was silver when it came away, as if he had caught a painted tear. “Come along, angel girl. ” He held out his hand.

“But Jace,” she said. “I lost him in the crowd-”

“Hell find us. ” Sebastians hand clamped around hers, surprisingly warm and comforting. She let him draw her toward one of the fountains in the middle of the room, and set her down on the wide marble edge. He sat down beside her, her hand still in his. “Look in the water,” he said. “Tell me what you see. ”

She leaned over and looked into the smooth dark surface of the pool. She could see her own face reflected back at her, her eyes wide and wild, her eye makeup smudged like bruises, her hair tangled. And then Sebastian leaned over too, and she saw his face beside hers. The silver of his hair reflected in the water made her think of the moon on the river. She reached to touch its brilliance, and the water shivered apart, their reflections distorting, unrecognizable.

“What is it?” Sebastian said, and there was a low urgency in his voice.

Clary shook her head; he was being very silly. “I saw you and me,” she said in a chiding tone. “What else?”

He put his hand under her chin and turned her face toward him. His eyes were black, night-black, with only a ring of silver separating the pupil from the iris. “Dont you see it? Were the same, you and me. ”

“The same?” She blinked at him. There was something very wrong with what he was saying, though she couldnt say quite what. “No. . . ”

“Youre my sister,” he said. “We have the same blood. ”

“You have demon blood,” she said. “Liliths blood. ” For some reason this struck her as funny, and she giggled. “Youre all dark, dark, dark. And Jace and I are light. ”

“You have a dark heart in you, Valentines daughter,” he said. “You just wont admit it. And if you want Jace, you had better accept it. Because he belongs to me now. ”

“Then, who do you belong to?”

Sebastians lips parted; he said nothing. For the first time, Clary thought, he looked as if he had nothing to say. She was surprised; his words hadnt meant much to her, and shed merely been idly curious. Before she could say anything else, a voice above them said:

“Whats going on?” It was Jace. He looked from one of them to the other, his face unreadable. More of the shimmering stuff had gotten on him, silver drops clinging to the gold of his hair. “Clary. ” He sounded annoyed. She pulled away from Sebastian and hopped to her feet.

“Sorry,” she said breathlessly. “I got lost in the crowd. ”

“I noticed,” he said. “One second I was dancing with you, and the next you were gone and a very persistent werewolf was trying to get the buttons on my jeans undone. ”

Sebastian chuckled. “Girl or boy werewolf?”

“Not sure. Either way, they could have used a shave. ” He took Clarys hand, lightly ringing her wrist with his fingers. “Do you want to go home? Or dance some more?”

“Dance some more. Is that all right?”

“Go ahead. ” Sebastian leaned back, his hands braced behind him on the fountains edge, his smile like the edge of a straight razor. “I dont mind watching. ”

Something flashed across Clarys vision: the memory of a bloody handprint. It was gone as soon as it had come, and she frowned. The night was too beautiful to think of ugly things. She looked back at her brother only for a moment before she let Jace lead her back through the crowd to its edge, near the shadows, where the press of bodies was lighter. Another ball of colored light burst above their heads as they went, scattering silver, and she tipped her head up, catching the salt-sweet drops on her tongue.

In the center of the room, beneath the bone chandelier, Jace stopped and she swung toward him. Her arms were around him, and she felt the silver liquid trickling down her face like tears. The fabric of his T-shirt was thin and she could feel the burn of his skin underneath. Her hands slid up under the hem, her nails scratching lightly over his ribs. Silver drops of liquid spangled his eyelashes as he lowered his glance to hers, leaned to whisper in her ear. His hands moved over her shoulders, down her arms. Neither of them were really dancing anymore: the hypnotic music went on around them, and the whirl of other dancers, but Clary barely noticed. A couple moving past laughed and made a derisive comment in Czech; Clary couldnt understand it, but suspected the gist was Get a room.

Jace made an impatient noise, and then he was moving through the crowd again, drawing her after him and into one of the shadowy alcoves that lined the walls.

There were dozens of these circular alcoves, each lined with a stone bench and provided with a velvet curtain that could be pulled closed to provide a modicum of privacy. Jace yanked the curtain shut and they crashed against each other like the sea against the shore. Their mouths collided and slid together; Jace lifted her up so she was pressed against him, his fingers twisting in the slippery material of her dress.

Clary was conscious of heat and softness, hands seeking and finding, yielding and pressure. Her hands under Jaces T-shirt, her fingernails clawing at his back, savagely pleased when he gasped. He bit down on her bottom lip and she tasted blood in her mouth, salt and hot. It was as if they wanted to cut each other apart, she thought, to climb inside each others bodies and share their heartbeats, even if it killed them both.

It was dark in the alcove, so dark that Jace was only an outline of shadows and gold. His body pinned Clarys to the wall. His hands slid down along her body and reached the end of her dress, drawing it up along her legs.

“What are you doing?” she whispered. “Jace?”

He looked at her. The peculiar light in the club turned his eyes an array of fractured colors. His smile was wicked. “You can tell me to stop whenever you want,” he said. “But you wont. ”

Sebastian drew aside the dusty velvet curtain that closed off the alcove, and smiled.

A bench ran around the inside of the small circular room, and a man sat there, leaning his elbows on a stone table. He had long black hair tied back, a scar or mark in the shape of a leaf on one cheek, and his eyes were as green as grass. He wore a white suit, and a handkerchief with green leaf embroidery peeked from one pocket.

“Jonathan Morgenstern,” Meliorn said.

Sebastian did not correct him. Faeries took great stock in names, and would never call him by anything but the name his father had chosen for him. “I wasnt sure you would be here at the appointed time, Meliorn. ”

“May I remind you that the Fair Folk do not lie,” said the knight. He reached up and twitched the curtain shut behind Sebastian. The pounding music outside was discreetly muffled, though by no means inaudible. “Come in, then, and seat yourself. Wine?”

Sebastian settled himself on the bench. “No, nothing. ” Wine, like the faerie liquor, would only cloud his thoughts, and faeries seemed to have a higher tolerance. “I admit I was surprised when I received the message that you wished to meet here. ”

“You above all should know that the Lady has a special interest in you. She knows of all your movements. ” Meliorn took a sip of wine. “There was a great demonic disturbance here in Prague tonight. The Queen was concerned. ”

Sebastian spread his arms out. “As you can see, I am unharmed. ”

“A disturbance so great will surely win the attention of the Nephilim. In fact, if I am not mistaken, several of them already disport themselves without. ”

“Without what?” Sebastian asked innocently.

Meliorn took another sip of wine and glared.

“Oh, right. I always forget the amusing way faeries talk. You mean there are Shadowhunters in the crowd outside, looking for me. I know that. I noticed them earlier. The Queen does not think much of me if she does not think I can handle a few Nephilim on my own. ” Sebastian drew a dagger from his belt and twirled it, the very little light in the alcove sparking off the blade.

“I shall tell her you said so,” muttered Meliorn. “I must admit, I have no idea what attraction you hold for her. I have taken your measure and found it lacking, but I have not my ladys taste. ”

“Weighed in the balance and found wanting?” Amused, Sebastian leaned forward. “Let me break it down for you, faerie knight. Im young. Im pretty. And Im willing to burn the whole world to the ground to get what I want. ” His dagger traced a crack in the stone table. “Like myself, the Queen is content to play a long game. But what I desire to know is this: When the twilight of the Nephilim comes, will the Courts stand with or against me?”

Meliorns face was blank. “The Lady says she stands with you. ”

Sebastians mouth curled at the corner. “That is excellent news. ”

Meliorn snorted. “I always presumed the race of humans would end themselves,” he said. “Through a thousand years I have prophesied that you would be your own deaths. But I did not expect the end to come like this. ”

Sebastian twirled the bright dagger between his fingers. “No one ever does. ”

“Jace,” Clary whispered. “Jace, anyone could come in and see us. ”

His hands didnt stop what they were doing. “They wont. ” He trailed a path of kisses down her neck, effectively scattering her thoughts. It was hard to hold on to what was real, with his hands on her, and her mind and memories in a whirl, and her fingers were so tightly bunched in Jaces shirt that she was sure she was going to rip the material.

The stone wall was cold against her back, but Jace was kissing her shoulder, easing the strap of her dress down. She was hot and cold and shivering. The world had fractured into bits, like the bright pieces inside a kaleidoscope. She was going to come apart under his hands.

“Jace-” She clung to his shirt. It was sticky, viscous. She glanced down at her hands and for a moment didnt comprehend what she saw there. Silver fluid, mixed with red.

Blood.

She looked up. Hanging upside-down from the ceiling above them, like a grisly pinata, was a human body, rope binding its ankles. Blood dripped from its cut throat.

Clary screamed, but the scream made no sound. She pushed at Jace, who stumbled back; there was blood in his hair, on his shirt, on her bare skin. She pulled up the straps of her dress and stumbled to the curtain that hid the alcove, yanking it open.

The statue of the angel was no longer quite as it had been. The black wings were bats wings, the lovely, benevolent face twisted into a sneer. Dangling from the ceiling on twisted ropes were the slaughtered bodies of men, women, animals-slashed open, their blood dripping down like rain. The fountains pulsed blood, and what floated on top of the liquid was not flowers but open severed hands. The writhing, clawing dancers on the floor were drenched in blood. As Clary watched, a couple spun by, the man tall and pale, the woman limp in his arms, her throat torn, obviously dead. The man licked his lips and bent down for another bite, but before he did, he glanced at Clary and grinned, and his face was streaked with blood and silver. She felt Jaces hand on her arm, tugging her back, but she fought free of him. She was staring at the glass tanks along the wall that she had thought held brilliant fish. The water was not clear but blackish and sludgy, and drowned human bodies floated in it, their hair spinning around them like the filaments of luminous jellyfish. She thought of Sebastian floating in his glass coffin. A scream rose in her throat, but she choked it back as silence and darkness overwhelmed her.

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