City of lost souls – Chapter 17: Valediction

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Chapter 17: Valediction

As I strolled down along the quay

All in the lateness of the day

I heard a lovely maiden say:

“Alack, for I can get no play. ”

A minstrel boy heard what she said

And straight he rushed to her aid. . .

“Do we have to keep listening to this wail-ey music?” Isabelle demanded, her booted foot tapping against the dashboard of Jordans truck.

“I happen to like this wail-ey music, my girl, and since Im driving, I get to choose,” Magnus said loftily. He was indeed driving. Simon had been surprised that he knew how, though he wasnt sure why. Magnus had been alive for ages. Surely he had found time to squeeze in a few weeks of drivers ed. Although Simon couldnt help wondering what birth date was on his license.

Isabelle rolled her eyes, probably because there wasnt enough room to do much else in the cab of the truck, with all four of them crammed together on the bench seat. Simon honestly hadnt expected her to come. He hadnt expected anyone to come to the farm with him but Magnus, though Alec had insisted on coming as well (much to Magnuss annoyance, as he considered the whole enterprise “too dangerous”), and then, just as Magnus had revved up the engine on the truck, Isabelle had come banging down the stairs of his apartment building and thrown herself through the front door, panting and out of breath. “Im coming too,” shed announced.

And that was that. No one could budge or dissuade her. She wouldnt look at Simon as she insisted, or explain why she wanted to come, but she did, and here she was. She was wearing jeans and a purple suede jacket she must have stolen out of Magnuss closet. Her weapons belt was slung around her slim hips. She was mashed up against Simon, whose other side was crushed against the car door. A strand of her hair was flying free and tickling his face.

“What is this, anyway?” Alec said, frowning at the CD player, which was playing music, although without a CD in it. Magnus had simply tapped the sound system with a blue-flashing finger, and it had started playing. “Some faerie band?”

Magnus didnt answer, but the music swelled louder.

To mirror went she straightaway

And did her ebon hair array

And for her gown she much did pay.

Then down she walked along the street,

A handsome lad she chanced to meet,

And sore by dawn were her dainty feet,

But all the boys were gay.

Isabelle snorted. “All the boys are gay. In this truck, anyway. Well, not you, Simon. ”

“You noticed,” said Simon.

“I think of myself as a freewheeling bisexual,” added Magnus.

“Please never say those words in front of my parents,” said Alec. “Especially my father. ”

“I thought your parents were okay with you, you know, coming out,” Simon said, leaning around Isabelle to look at Alec, who was-as he often was-scowling, and pushing his floppy dark hair out of his eyes. Aside from the occasional exchange, Simon had never talked to Alec much. He wasnt an easy person to get to know. But, Simon admitted to himself, his own recent estrangement from his mother made him more curious about Alecs answer than he would have been otherwise.

“My mother seems to have accepted it,” Alec said. “But my father-no, not really. Once he asked me what I thought had turned me gay. ”

Simon felt Isabelle tense next to him. “Turned you gay?” She sounded incredulous. “Alec, you didnt tell me that. ”

“I hope you told him you were bitten by a gay spider,” said Simon.

Magnus snorted; Isabelle looked confused. “Ive read Magnuss stash of comics,” said Alec, “so I actually know what youre talking about. ” A small smile played around his mouth. “So would that give me the proportional gayness of a spider?”

“Only if it was a really gay spider,” said Magnus, and he yelled as Alec punched him in the arm. “Ow, okay, never mind. ”

“Well, whatever,” said Isabelle, obviously annoyed not to get the joke. “Its not like Dads ever coming back from Idris, anyway. ”

Alec sighed. “Sorry to wreck your vision of our happy family. I know you want to think Dads fine with me being gay, but hes not. ”

“But if you dont tell me when people say things like that to you, or do things to hurt you, then how can I help you?” Simon could feel Isabelles agitation vibrating through her body. “How can I-”

“Iz,” Alec said tiredly. “Its not like its one big bad thing. Its a lot of little invisible things. When Magnus and I were traveling, and Id call from the road, Dad never asked how he was. When I get up to talk in Clave meetings, no one listens, and I dont know if thats because Im young or if its because of something else. I saw Mom talking to a friend about her grandchildren and the second I walked into the room they shut up. Irina Cartwright told me it was a pity no one would ever inherit my blue eyes now. ” He shrugged and looked toward Magnus, who took a hand off the wheel for a moment to place it on Alecs. “Its not like a stab wound you can protect me from. Its a million little paper cuts every day. ”

“Alec,” Isabelle began, but before she could say anything more, the sign for the turnoff loomed up ahead: a wooden placard in the shape of an arrow with the words THREE ARROWS FARM painted on it in block lettering. Simon remembered Luke kneeling on the farmhouse floor, painstakingly spelling out the words in black paint, while Clary added the-now weather-faded and almost invisible-pattern of flowers along the bottom.

“Turn left,” he said, flinging his arm out and nearly hitting Alec. “Magnus, were here. ”

It had taken several chapters of Dickens before Clary had finally succumbed to exhaustion and fallen asleep against Jaces shoulder. Half in dream and half in reality, she recalled him carrying her downstairs and laying her down in the bedroom shed woken up in her first day in the apartment. He had drawn the curtains and closed the door after him as he left, shutting the room into darkness, and she had fallen asleep to the sound of his voice in the hallway, calling for Sebastian.

She dreamed of the frozen lake again, and of Simon crying out for her, and of a city like Alicante, but the demon towers were made of human bones and the canals ran with blood. She woke twisted in her sheets, her hair a mass of tangles and the light outside the window dimmed to a twilight darkness. At first she thought that the voices outside her door were part of the dream, but as they grew louder, she raised her head to listen, still groggy and half-tangled in the webbing of sleep.

“Hey, little brother. ” It was Sebastians voice, floating under her door from the living room. “Is it done?”

There was a long silence. Then Jaces voice, oddly flat and colorless. “Its done. ”

Sebastians breath drew in sharply. “And the old lady-she did as we asked? Made the Cup?”

“Yes. ”

“Show it to me. ”

A rustle. Silence. Jace said, “Look, take it if you want it. ”

“No. ” There was a curious thoughtfulness in Sebastians tone. “You hold on to it for the moment. You did the work of getting it back, after all. Didnt you?”

“But it was your plan. ” There was something in Jaces voice, something that made Clary lean forward and press her ear to the wall, suddenly desperate to hear more. “And I executed it, just as you wanted. Now, if you dont mind-”

“I do mind. ” There was a rustle. Clary imagined Sebastian standing up, looking down at Jace from the inch or so that divided them in height. “Theres something wrong. I can tell. I can read you, you know. ”

“Im tired. And there was a lot of blood. Look, I just need to clean myself off, and to sleep. And. . . ” Jaces voice died.

“And to see my sister. ”

“Id like to see her, yes. ”

“Shes asleep. Has been for hours. ”

“Do I need to ask your permission?” There was a razored edge to Jaces voice, something that reminded Clary of the way he had once spoken to Valentine. Something she had not heard in the way he spoke to Sebastian in a long time.

“No. ” Sebastian sounded surprised, almost caught off guard. “I suppose if you want to barge in there and gaze wistfully at her sleeping face, go right ahead. Ill never understand why-”

“No,” Jace said. “You never will. ”

There was silence. Clary could so clearly picture Sebastian staring after Jace, a quizzical look on his face, that it took her a moment before she realized that Jace must be coming to her room. She had only time to throw herself flat on the bed and shut her eyes before the door opened, letting in a slice of yellow-white light that momentarily blinded her. She made what she hoped was a realistic waking-up noise and rolled over, her hand over her face. “What. . . ?”

The door shut. The room was in darkness again. She could see Jace only as a shape that moved slowly toward her bed, until he was standing over her, and she couldnt help remembering another night when he had come to her room while she slept. Jace standing by the head of her bed, still wearing his white mourning clothes, and there was nothing light or sarcastic or distant in the way he was looking down at her. “Ive been wandering around all night-I couldnt sleep-and I kept finding myself walking here. To you. ”

He was only an outline now, an outline with bright hair that shone in the faint light that filtered from beneath the door. “Clary,” he whispered. There was a thump, and she realized he had fallen to his knees by the side of her bed. She didnt move, but her body tightened. His voice was a whisper. “Clary, its me. Its me. ”

Her eyelids fluttered open, wide, and their gazes met. She was staring at Jace. Kneeling beside her bed, his eyes were level with hers. He wore a long dark woolen coat, buttoned all the way to the throat, where she could see black Marks-Soundless, Agility, Accuracy-like a sort of necklace against his skin. His eyes were very gold and very wide, and as if she could see through them, she saw Jace-her Jace. The Jace who had lifted her in his arms when she was dying of Ravener poison; the Jace who had watched her hold Simon against the rising daylight over the East River; the Jace who had told her about a little boy and the falcon his father had killed. The Jace she loved.

Her heart seemed to stop altogether. She couldnt even gasp.

His eyes were full of urgency and pain. “Please,” he murmured. “Please believe me. ”

She believed him. They carried the same blood, loved the same way; this was her Jace, as much as her hands were her own hands, her heart her own heart. But-“How?”

“Clary, shh-”

She began to struggle into a sitting position, but he reached out and pushed her back against the bed by her shoulders. “We cant talk now. I have to go. ”

She grabbed for his sleeve, felt him wince. “Dont leave me. ”

He dropped his head for just a moment; when he looked up again, his eyes were dry but the expression in them silenced her. “Wait a few moments after I go,” he whispered. “Then slip out and up to my room. Sebastian cant know were together. Not tonight. ” He dragged himself to his feet, his eyes pleading. “Dont let him hear you. ”

She sat up. “Your stele. Leave me your stele. ”

Doubt flickered in his eyes; she held his gaze steadily, then put her hand out. After a moment he reached into his pocket and took out the dully glowing implement; he laid it in her palm. For a moment their skin touched, and she shuddered-just a brush of the hand from this Jace was almost as powerful as all the kissing and tearing at each other they had done in the club the other night. She knew he felt it too, for he jerked his hand away and began to back toward the door. She could hear his breath, ragged and swift. He fumbled behind himself for the knob and let himself out, his eyes on her face until the very last moment, when the door closed between them with a decided click.

Clary sat in the darkness, stunned. Her blood felt as if it had thickened in her veins and her heart was having to work double time to keep beating. Jace. My Jace.

Her hand tightened on the stele. Something about it, its cold hardness, seemed to focus and sharpen her thoughts. She looked down at herself. She was wearing a tank top and pajama shorts; there were goose bumps on her arms, but not because it was cold. She set the tip of the stele to her inner arm and drew it slowly down the skin, watching as a Soundless rune spiraled across her pale, blue-veined skin.

She opened the door just a crack. Sebastian was gone, off to sleep most likely. There was music playing faintly from the television set-something classical, the sort of piano music Jace liked. She wondered if Sebastian appreciated music, or any sort of art. It seemed such a human capacity.

Despite her concern about where hed gone, her feet were carrying her toward the passage that led to the kitchen-and then she was through the living room and dashing up the glass steps, her feet making no noise as she reached the top and sprinted down the hall to Jaces room. Then she was jerking open the door and sliding inside, the door clicking shut behind her.

The windows were open, and through them she could see rooftops and a curving slice of moon, a perfect Paris night. Jaces witchlight rune-stone sat on the nightstand beside his bed. It glowed with a dull energy that cast further illumination through the room. It was enough light for Clary to see Jace, standing between the two long windows. He had shrugged off the long black coat, which lay in a crumpled heap at his feet. She realized immediately why he had not taken it off when hed come into the house, why he had kept it buttoned all the way to his throat. Because beneath it he wore only a gray button-down shirt, and jeans-and they were sticky and soaked with blood. Parts of the shirt were in ribbons, as if they had been slashed with a very sharp blade. His left sleeve was rolled up, and there was a white bandage wrapped around his forearm-he must have just done it-already darkening at the edges with blood. His feet were bare, his shoes kicked off, and the floor where he stood was splattered with blood, like scarlet tears. She set the stele down on his bedside table with a click.

“Jace,” she said softly.

It suddenly seemed insane that there was this much space between them, that she was standing across the room from Jace, and that they werent touching. She started toward him, but he held up a hand to ward her off.

“Dont. ” His voice cracked. Then his fingers went to the buttons on his shirt, undoing them, one by one. He shrugged the bloodstained garment off his shoulders and let it fall to the ground.

Clary stared. Liliths rune was still in place, over his heart, but instead of shimmering red-silver it looked as if the hot tip of a poker had been dragged across the skin, charring it. She put her hand up to her own chest involuntarily, her fingers splaying over her heart. She could feel its beating, hard and fast. “Oh. ”

“Yeah. Oh,” Jace said flatly. “This wont last, Clary. Me being myself again, I mean. Only as long as this hasnt healed. ”

“I-I wondered,” Clary stammered. “Before-while you were sleeping-I thought about cutting the rune like I did when we fought Lilith. But I was afraid Sebastian would feel it. ”

“He would have. ” Jaces golden eyes were as flat as his voice. “He didnt feel this because it was made with a pugio-a dagger seethed in angel blood. Theyre incredibly rare; Ive never even seen one in real life before. ” He ran his fingers through his hair. “The blade turned to hot ash after it touched me, but it did the damage it needed to do. ”

“You were in a fight. Was it a demon? Why didnt Sebastian go with-”

“Clary. ” Jaces voice was barely a whisper. “This-itll take longer than an ordinary cut to heal. . . but not forever. And then Ill be him again. ”

“How much time? Before you go back to the way you were?”

“I dont know. I just dont know. But I wanted-I needed to be with you, like this, like myself, for as long as I could. ” He held out a hand to her stiffly, as if unsure of its reception. “Do you think you could-”

She was already running across the room to him. She threw her arms around his neck. He caught her and swung her up, burying his face in the crook of her neck. She breathed him in like air. He smelled of blood and sweat and ashes and Marks.

“Its you,” she whispered. “Its really you. ”

He drew back to look at her. With his free hand he traced her cheekbone gently. She had missed that, his gentleness. It was one of the things that had made her fall in love with him in the first place-realizing that this scarred, sarcastic boy was gentle with the things he loved.

“I missed you,” she said. “I missed you so much. ”

He closed his eyes as if the words hurt. She put her hand to his cheek. He leaned his head into her palm, his hair tickling her knuckles, and she realized his face was wet too.

The boy never cried again.

“Its not your fault,” she said. She kissed his cheek with the same tenderness he had showed her. She tasted salt-blood and tears. He still hadnt spoken, but she could feel the wild beat of his heart against her chest. His arms were tight around her, as if he never meant to let go. She kissed his cheekbone, his jaw, and finally his mouth, a light press of lips on lips.

There was none of the frenzy there had been in the nightclub. It was a kiss meant to give solace, to say everything there was no time to say. He kissed her back, hesitant at first, then with greater urgency, his hand stealing up into her hair, winding the tresses between his fingers. Their kisses deepened slowly, softly, the intensity growing between them as it always did, like a blaze that started with a single match and flared into wildfire.

She knew how strong he was, but she still felt a shock as he carried her to the bed and laid her down gently among the scattered pillows, sliding his body over hers, one smooth gesture that reminded her what all those Marks on his body were for. Strength. Grace. Lightness of touch. She breathed his breath as they kissed, each kiss drawn out now, lingering, exploratory. Her hands drifted over him, his shoulders, the muscles of his arms, his back. His bare skin felt like hot silk under her palms.

When his hands found the hem of her tank top, she stretched her arms out, arching her back, wanting every barrier between them gone. The moment it was off, she pulled him back against her, their kisses fiercer now, as if they were struggling to reach some hidden place inside each other. She wouldnt have thought they could get any closer, but somehow as they kissed, they wound themselves into each other like intricate thread, each kiss hungrier, deeper than the last.

Their hands moved quickly over each other, and then more slowly, uncovering and unhurried. She dug her fingers into his shoulders when he kissed her throat, her collarbones, the star-shaped mark on her shoulder. She grazed his scar too, with the backs of her knuckles, and kissed the wounded Mark Lilith had made on his chest. She felt him shudder, wanting her, and she knew she was on the very brink of where there was no going back, and she didnt care. She knew what it was like to lose him now. She knew the black empty days that came after. And she knew that if she lost him again, she wanted this to remember. To hold on to. That she had been as close to him once as you could be to another person. She locked her ankles around the small of his back, and he groaned against her mouth, a soft, low, helpless sound. His fingers dug into her hips.

“Clary. ” He pulled away. He was shaking. “I cant. . . If we dont stop now, we wont be able to. ”

“Dont you want to?” She looked up at him in surprise. He was flushed, tousled, his fair hair a darker gold where sweat had pasted it to his forehead and temples. She could feel his heart stuttering inside his chest.

“Yes, its just Ive never-”

“You havent?” She was surprised. “Done this before?”

He took a deep breath. “I have. ” His eyes searched her face, as if he were looking for judgment, disapprobation, even disgust. Clary looked back at him evenly. It was what she had assumed, anyway. “But not when it mattered. ” He touched her cheek with his fingers, feather-light. “I dont even know how. . . ”

Clary laughed softly. “I think its just been established that you do. ”

“Thats not what I meant. ” He caught her hand and brought it to his face. “I want you,” he said, “more than I have ever wanted anything in my life. But I. . . ” He swallowed. “Name of the Angel. Im going to kick myself for this later. ”

“Dont say youre trying to protect me,” she said fiercely. “Because I-”

“Its not that,” he said. “Im not being self-sacrificing. Im. . . jealous. ”

“Youre-jealous? Of who?”

“Myself. ” His face twisted. “I hate the thought of him being with you. Him. That other me. The one Sebastian controls. ”

She felt her face start to burn. “At the club. . . last night. . . ”

He dropped his head to her shoulder. A little bewildered, she stroked his back, feeling the scratches where her fingernails had torn his skin at the nightclub. The specific memory made her blush even harder. So did the knowledge that he could have gotten rid of the scratches with an iratze if hed wanted to. But he hadnt. “I remember everything about last night,” he said. “And it makes me crazy, because it was me but it wasnt. When were together, I want it to be the real you. The real me. ”

“Isnt that what we are now?”

“Yes. ” He raised his head, kissed her mouth. “But for how long? I could turn back into him any minute. I couldnt do that to you. To us. ” His voice was bitter. “I dont even know how you can stand it, being around this thing that isnt me-”

“Even if you go back to being that in five minutes,” she said, “it would have been worth it, just to be with you like this again. Not to have it end on that rooftop. Because this is you, and even that other you-theres pieces of the real you in there. Its like Im looking through a blurred window at you, but its not the real you. And at least I know now. ”

“What do you mean?” His hands tightened on her shoulders. “What do you mean at least you know?”

She took a deep breath. “Jace, when we were first together, like really together, you were so happy for that first month. And everything we did together was funny and fun and amazing. And then it was like it just started draining out of you, all that happiness. You didnt want to be with me or look at me-”

“I was afraid I was going to hurt you. I thought I was losing my mind. ”

“You didnt smile or laugh or joke. And Im not blaming you. Lilith was creeping into your mind, controlling you. Changing you. But you have to remember-I know how stupid this sounds-I never had a boyfriend before. I thought maybe it was normal. That maybe you were just getting tired of me. ”

“I couldnt-”

“Im not asking for reassurance,” she said. “Im telling you. When youre-like you are, controlled-you seem happy. I came here because I wanted to save you. ” Her voice dropped. “But I started to wonder what I was saving you from. How I could bring you back to a life you seemed so unhappy with. ”

“Unhappy?” He shook his head. “I was lucky. So, so lucky. And I couldnt see it. ” His eyes met hers. “I love you,” he said. “And you make me happier than I ever thought I could be. And now that I know what its like to be someone else-to lose myself-I want my life back. My family. You. All of it. ” His eyes darkened. “I want it back. ”

His mouth came down on hers, with bruising pressure, their lips open, hot and hungry, and his hands gripped her waist-and then the sheets on either side of her, almost tearing them. He pulled back, panting. “We cant-”

“Then quit kissing me!” she gasped. “In fact-” She ducked out from under his grip, grabbing for her tank top. “Ill be right back. ”

She pushed past him and darted into the bathroom, locking the door behind her. She flicked on the light, and stared at herself in the mirror. She looked wild-eyed, her hair tangled, her lips swollen from kisses. She blushed and pulled her top back on, splashing cold water on her face, twisting her hair back into a knot. When she had convinced herself she no longer looked like the ravished maiden from the cover of a romance novel, she went for the hand towels-nothing romantic about that-grabbing one and wetting it down, then rubbing it with soap.

She came back out into the bedroom. Jace was sitting on the edge of the bed, in jeans and a clean, unbuttoned shirt, his tousled hair outlined by moonlight. He looked like a statue of an angel. Only, angels werent usually streaked with blood.

She moved to stand in front of him. “All right,” she said. “Take off your shirt. ”

Jace raised his eyebrows.

“Im not going to attack you,” she said impatiently. “I can take the sight of your naked chest without swooning. ”

“Are you sure?” he asked, obediently sliding the shirt off his shoulders. “Because viewing my naked chest has caused many women to seriously injure themselves stampeding to get to me. ”

“Yeah, well, I dont see anyone here but me. And I just want to clean the blood off you. ” He leaned back obediently on his hands. Blood had soaked through the shirt hed been wearing and streaked his chest and the flat planes of his stomach, but as she ran her fingers carefully over him, she could feel that most of his cuts were shallow. The iratze hed put on himself earlier was already causing them to fade.

He turned his face up to her, eyes shut, as she ran the damp washcloth over his skin, blood pinking the white cotton. She scrubbed at the dried streaks on his neck, wrung out the cloth, dunked it in the glass of water on the nightstand, and went to work on his chest. He sat with his head tilted back, watching her as the cloth glided over the muscles of his shoulders, the smooth line of arms, forearms, hard chest scarred with white lines, the black of permanent Marks.

“Clary,” he said.

“Yes?”

The humor had gone from his voice. “I wont remember this,” he said. “When Im back-like I was, under his control, I wont remember being myself. I wont remember being with you, or talking to you like this. So just tell me-are they all right? My family? Do they know-”

“Whats happened to you? A little. And no, theyre not all right. ” His eyes closed. “I could lie to you,” she said. “But you should know. They love you so much, and they want you back. ”

“Not like this,” he said.

She touched his shoulder. “Are you going to tell me what happened? How you got these cuts?”

He took a deep breath, and the scar on his chest stood out, livid and dark. “I killed someone. ”

She felt the shock of his words go through her body like the recoil of a gun. She dropped the bloody towel, then bent down to retrieve it. When she looked up, he was staring down at her. In the moonlight the lines of his face were fine and sharp and sad. “Who?” she asked.

“You met her,” Jace went on, each word like a weight. “The woman you went to visit with Sebastian. The Iron Sister. Magdalena. ” He twisted away from her and reached back to retrieve something tangled among the blankets of the bed. The muscles in his arms and back moved under the skin as he took hold of it and turned back to Clary, the object gleaming in his hand.

It was a clear, glassine chalice-an exact replica of the Mortal Cup, except that instead of being gold, it was carved of silvery-white adamas.

“Sebastian sent me-sent him-to get this from her tonight,” Jace said. “And he also gave me the order to kill her. She wasnt expecting it. She wasnt expecting any violence, just payment and exchange. She thought we were on the same side. I let her hand me the Cup, and then I took my dagger and I-” He inhaled sharply, as if the memory hurt. “I stabbed her. I meant it to be through the heart, but she turned and I missed by inches. She staggered back and grabbed for her worktable-there was powdered adamas on it-she threw it at me. I think she meant to blind me. I turned my head away, and when I looked back she had an aegis in her hand. I think I knew what it was. The light of it seared my eyes. I cried out as she drove it toward my chest-I felt a searing pain in the Mark, and then the blade shattered. ” He looked down and gave a mirthless laugh. “The funny thing is, if Id been wearing gear, this wouldnt have happened. I didnt because I didnt think it was worth the bother. I didnt think she could hurt me. But the aegis burned the Mark-Liliths Mark-and suddenly I was back in myself, standing there over this dead woman with a bloody dagger in my hand and the Cup in the other. ”

“I dont understand. Why did Sebastian tell you to kill her? She was going to give the Cup to you. To Sebastian. She said-”

Jace expelled a ragged breath. “Do you remember what Sebastian said about that clock in Old Town Square? In Prague?”

“That the king had the clock makers eyes put out after he made it, so he could never make anything as beautiful again,” Clary said. “But I dont see-”

“Sebastian wanted Magdalena dead so she could never make anything like this again,” said Jace. “And so she could never tell. ”

“Tell what?” She put her hand up, took hold of Jaces chin, and drew his face down so that he was looking at her. “Jace, what is Sebastian really planning on doing? The story he told in the training room, about wanting to raise demons so he could destroy them-”

“Sebastian wants to raise demons all right. ” Jaces voice was grim. “One demon in particular. Lilith. ”

“But Liliths dead. Simon destroyed her. ”

“Greater Demons dont die. Not really. Greater Demons inhabit the spaces between worlds, the great Void, the emptiness. What Simon did was shatter her power, send her in shreds back to the nothingness she came from. But shell slowly reform there. Be reborn. It would take centuries, but not if Sebastian helps her. ”

A cold feeling was growing in the pit of Clarys stomach. “Helps her how?”

“By summoning her back to this world. He wants to mix her blood and his in a cup and create an army of dark Nephilim. He wants to be Jonathan Shadowhunter reincarnated, but on the side of the demons, not the angels. ”

“An army of dark Nephilim? The two of you are tough, but youre not exactly an army. ”

“There are about forty or fifty Nephilim who either were once loyal to Valentine, or hate the current direction of the Clave and are open to hearing what Sebastian has to say. Hes been in contact with them. When he raises Lilith, theyll be there. ” Jace took a deep breath. “And after that? With the power of Lilith behind him? Who knows who else will join his cause? He wants a war. Hes convinced hell win it, and Im not sure he wont. For every dark Nephilim he makes, he will grow in power. Add that to the demons hes already made allegiances with, and I dont know if the Clave is prepared to withstand him. ”

Clary dropped her hand. “Sebastian never changed. Your blood never changed him. Hes exactly like he always was. ” Her eyes flicked up to Jaces. “But you. You lied to me, too. ”

“He lied to you. ”

Her mind was whirling. “I know. I know that Jace isnt you-”

“He thinks its for your good and youll be happier in the end, but he did lie to you. And I would never do that. ”

“The aegis,” Clary said. “If it can hurt you but Sebastian cant feel it, could it kill him but not hurt you?”

Jace shook his head. “I dont think so. If I had an aegis, I might be willing to try, but-no. Our life forces are tied together. An injury is one thing. If he were to die. . . ” His voice hardened. “You know the easiest way to end this. Put a dagger in my heart. Im surprised you didnt do it while I was sleeping. ”

“Could you? If it were me?” Her voice shook. “I believed there was a way to make this right. I still believe it. Give me your stele, and Ill make a Portal. ”

“You cant make a Portal from inside here,” said Jace. “It wont work. The only way in and out of this apartment is through the wall downstairs, by the kitchen. Its the only place you can move the apartment from, too. ”

“Can you move us to the Silent City? If we go back, the Silent Brothers can figure out a way to separate you from Sebastian. Well tell the Clave his plan so theyll be prepared-”

“I could move us to one of the entrances,” Jace said. “And I will. Ill go. Well go together. But just so there wont be any untruth between us, Clary, you have to know that theyll kill me. After I tell them what I know, theyll kill me. ”

“Kill you? No, they wouldnt-”

“Clary. ” His voice was gentle. “As a good Shadowhunter I ought to volunteer to die to stop what Sebastian is going to do. As a good Shadowhunter, I would. ”

“But none of this is your fault. ” Her voice rose, and she forced it back down, not wanting Sebastian, downstairs, to hear. “You cant help whats been done to you. Youre a victim in this. Its not you, Jace; its someone else, someone wearing your face. You shouldnt be punished-”

“Its not a matter of punishment. Its practicality. Kill me, Sebastian dies. Its no different from sacrificing myself in battle. Its all well and good to say I didnt choose this. It has happened. And what I am now, myself, will be gone again soon enough. And, Clary, I know it doesnt make sense, but I remember it-I remember all of it. I remember walking with you in Venice, and that night at the club, and sleeping in this bed with you, and dont you get it? I wanted this. This is all I ever wanted, to live with you like this, be with you like this. What am I supposed to think, when the worst thing that has ever happened to me gives me exactly what I want? Maybe Jace Lightwood can see all the ways this is wrong and messed-up, but Jace Wayland, Valentines son. . . loves this life. ” His eyes were wide and gold as he looked at her, and she was reminded of Raziel, of his gaze that seemed to hold all the wisdom and all the sadness in the world. “And thats why I have to go,” he said. “Before this wears off. Before Im him again. ”

“Go where?”

“To the Silent City. I have to turn myself in-and the Cup, too. ”

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