City of lost souls – Chapter 20: A Door into the Dark

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Chapter 20: A Door into the Dark

Clary screamed aloud in pure frustration as the shard of glass embedded itself in the wooden floor, inches from Sebastians throat.

She felt him laugh underneath her. “You cant do it,” he said. “You cant kill me. ”

“To hell with you,” she snarled. “I cant kill Jace. ”

“Same thing,” he said, and, sitting up so fast she barely saw him move, he belted her across the face with enough force to send her skidding across the glass-strewn floor. Her slide was arrested when she hit the wall, gagged, and coughed blood. She buried her head against her forearm, the taste and smell of her own blood everywhere, sickening and metallic. A moment later Sebastians hand was fisted in her jacket and he was hauling her to her feet.

She didnt fight him. What was the point? Why fight someone when they were willing to kill you and they knew you werent willing to kill, or even seriously wound, them? Theyd always win. She stood still as he examined her. “Could be worse,” he said. “Looks like the jacket kept you from any real damage. ”

Real damage? Her body felt like it had been sliced all over with thin knives. She glared at him through her eyelashes as he swung her up into his arms. It was like it had been in Paris, when hed carried her away from the Dahak demons, but then she had been-if not grateful, at least confused, and now she was filled with a boiling hatred. She kept her body tense while he carried her upstairs, his boots ringing on the glass. She was trying to forget she was touching him, that his arm was under her thighs, his hands possessive on her back.

I will kill him, she thought. I will find a way, and I will kill him.

He walked into Jaces room and dumped her onto the floor. She staggered back a step. He caught her and ripped the jacket off her. Underneath she was wearing only a T-shirt. It was shredded as if shed run a cheese grater over it, and stained everywhere with blood.

Sebastian whistled.

“Youre a mess, little sister,” he said. “Better get in the bathroom and wash some of that blood off. ”

“No,” she said. “Let them see me like this. Let them see what you had to do to get me to come with you. ”

His hand shot out and grabbed her under the chin, forcing her face up to his. Their faces were inches apart. She wanted to close her eyes but refused to give him the satisfaction; she stared back at him, at the loops of silver in his black eyes, the blood on his lip where shed bitten him. “You belong to me,” he said again. “And I will have you by my side, however I have to force you to be there. ”

“Why?” she demanded, rage as bitter on her tongue as the taste of blood. “What do you care? I know you cant kill Jace, but you could kill me. Why dont you just do it?”

Just for a moment, his eyes went distant, glassy, as if he were seeing something invisible to her. “This world will be consumed by hellfire,” he said. “But I will bring you and Jace safely through the flames if you only do what I ask. It is a grace I extend to no one else. Do you not see how foolish you are to reject it?”

“Jonathan,” she said. “Dont you see how impossible it is to ask me to fight by your side when you want to burn down the world?”

His eyes refocused on her face. “But why?” It was almost plaintive. “Why is this world so precious to you? You know that there are others. ” His own blood was very red against his stark white skin. “Tell me you love me. Tell me you love me and will fight with me. ”

“Ill never love you. You were wrong when you said we have the same blood. Your blood is poison. Demon poison. ” She spat the last words.

He only smiled, his eyes glowing darkly. She felt something burn on her upper arm, and she jumped before she realized it was a stele; he was tracing an iratze on her skin. She hated him even as the pain faded. His bracelet clanked on his wrist as he moved his hand skillfully, completing the rune.

“I knew you lied,” she said to him suddenly.

“I tell so many lies, sweetheart,” he said. “Which one specifically?”

“Your bracelet,” she said. “Acheronta movebo. It doesnt mean Thus always to tyrants. Thats sic semper tyrannis. This is from Virgil. Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo. If I cannot move Heaven, I will raise Hell. ”

“Your Latins better that I thought. ”

“I learn fast. ”

“Not fast enough. ” He released his grip on her chin. “Now get into the bathroom and clean yourself up,” he said, shoving her backward. He grabbed her mothers ceremonial dress off the bed and dumped it into her arms. “Time grows short, and my patience wears thin. If youre not out in ten minutes, Ill come in after you. And trust me, you wont like that. ”

“Im starving,” Maia said. “I feel like I havent eaten in days. ” She pulled the refrigerator door open and peered in. “Oh, yuck. ”

Jordan pulled her back, wrapping his arms around her, and nuzzled the back of her neck. “We can order food. Pizza, Thai, Mexican, whatever you want. As long as it doesnt cost more than twenty-five dollars. ”

She turned around in his arms, laughing. She was wearing one of his shirts; it was a little too big on him, and on her it hung nearly to her knees. Her hair was pulled up in a knot at the back of her neck. “Big spender,” she said.

“For you, anything. ” He lifted her up by the waist and set her on one of the counter stools. “You can have a taco. ” He kissed her. His lips were sweet, slightly minty from toothpaste. She felt the buzz in her body that came from touching him, that started at the base of her spine and shot through all her nerves.

She giggled against his mouth, wrapping her arms around his neck. A sharp ringing cut through the humming in her blood as Jordan pulled away, frowning. “My phone. ” Hanging on to her with one hand, he fumbled behind himself on the counter until he found it. It had stopped ringing, but he lifted it anyway, frowning. “Its the Praetor. ”

The Praetor never called, or at least rarely. Only when something was of deadly importance. Maia sighed and leaned back. “Take it. ”

He nodded, already lifting the phone to his ear. His voice was a soft murmur in the back of her consciousness as she jumped down from the counter and went to the refrigerator, where the take-out menus were pinned. She riffled through them until she found the menu for the local Thai place she liked, and turned around with it in her hand.

Jordan was now standing in the middle of the living room, white-faced, with his phone forgotten in his hand. Maia could hear a tinny, distant voice coming from it, saying his name.

Maia dropped the menu and hurried across the room to him. She took the phone out of his hand, disconnected the call, and set it on the counter. “Jordan? What happened?”

“My roommate-Nick-you remember?” he said, disbelief in his hazel eyes. “You never met him but-”

“I saw the photos of him,” she said. “Has something happened?”

“Hes dead. ”

“How?”

“Throat torn out, all his blood gone. They think he tracked his assignment down and she killed him. ”

“Maureen?” Maia was shocked. “But she was just a little girl. ”

“Shes a vampire now. ” He took a ragged breath. “Maia. . . ”

She stared at him. His eyes were glassy, his hair tousled. A sudden panic rose inside her. Kissing and cuddling and even sex were one thing. Comforting someone when they were stricken with loss was something else. It meant commitment. It meant caring. It meant you wanted to ease their pain, and at the same time you were thanking God that whatever the bad thing was that had happened, it hadnt happened to them.

“Jordan,” she said softly, and reaching up on her toes, she put her arms around him. “Im sorry. ”

Jordans heart beat hard against hers. “Nick was only seventeen. ”

“He was a Praetor, like you,” she said softly. “He knew it was dangerous. Youre only eighteen. ” He tightened his grip on her but said nothing. “Jordan,” she said. “I love you. I love you and Im sorry. ”

She felt him freeze. It was the first time shed said the words since a few weeks before shed been bitten. He seemed to be holding his breath. Finally he let it out with a gasp.

“Maia,” he croaked. And then, unbelievably, before he could say another word-her phone rang.

“Never mind,” she said. “Ill ignore it. ”

He let her go, his face soft, bemused with grief and amazement. “No,” he said. “No, it could be important. You go ahead. ”

She sighed and went to the counter. It had stopped ringing by the time she reached it, but there was a text message blinking on the screen. She felt her stomach muscles tighten.

“What is it?” Jordan asked, as if he had sensed her sudden tension. Maybe he had.

“A 911. An emergency. ” She turned to him, holding the phone. “A call to battle. It went out to everyone in the pack. From Luke-and Magnus. We have to leave right away. ”

Clary sat on the floor of Jaces bathroom, her back against the tile of the tub, her legs stretched out in front of her. She had cleaned the blood from her face and body, and rinsed her bloody hair in the sink. She was wearing her mothers ceremonial dress, rucked up to her thighs, and the tiled floor was cold against her bare feet and calves.

She looked down at her hands. They ought to look different, she thought. But they were the same hands shed always had, thin fingers, squared-off nails-you didnt want long nails when you were an artist-and freckles on the backs of the knuckles. Her face looked the same too. All of her seemed the same, but she wasnt. These past few days had changed her in ways she couldnt quite yet fully comprehend.

She stood up and looked at herself in the mirror. She was pale, between the flame colors of her hair and the dress. Bruises decorated her shoulders and throat.

“Admiring yourself?” She hadnt heard Sebastian open the door, but there he was, smirking intolerably as always, propped against the frame of the doorway. He was wearing a kind of gear she had never seen before: the usual tough material, but in a scarlet color like fresh blood. He had also added an accessory to his outfit-a recurved crossbow. He held it casually in one hand, though it must have been heavy. “You look lovely, sister. A fitting companion for me. ”

She bit back her words with the taste of blood that still lingered in her mouth, and walked toward him. He caught at her arm as she tried to squeeze past him in the doorway. His hand ran over her bare shoulder. “Good,” he said. “Youre not Marked here. I hate it when women ruin their skin with scars. Keep the Marks on your arms and legs. ”

“Id rather you didnt touch me. ”

He snorted, and swung the crossbow up. A bolt was fitted to it, ready to fire. “Walk,” he said. “Ill be right behind you. ”

It took every ounce of effort she had not to flinch away from him. She turned and walked toward the door, feeling a burning between her shoulder blades where she imagined the arrow of the crossbow was trained. They moved like that down the glass stairs and through the kitchen and living room. He grunted at the sight of Clarys scrawled rune on the wall, reached around her, and under his hand a doorway appeared. The door itself swung open onto a square of darkness.

The crossbow jabbed Clary hard in the back. “Move. ”

Taking a deep breath, she stepped out into the shadows.

Alec slammed his hand against the button in the small cage elevator, and slumped back against the wall. “How much time do we have?”

Isabelle checked the glowing screen of her mobile phone. “About forty minutes. ”

The elevator lurched upward. Isabelle cast a covert glance at her brother. He looked tired-dark circles were under his eyes. Despite his height and strength, Alec, with his blue eyes and soft black hair almost to his collar, looked more delicate than he was. “Im fine,” he said, answering her unspoken question. “Youre the one whos going to be in trouble for staying away from home. Im over eighteen. I can do what I want. ”

“I texted Mom every night and told her I was with you and Magnus,” Isabelle said as the elevator came to a stop. “Its not like she didnt know where I was. And speaking of Magnus. . . ”

Alec reached across her and pulled the elevators inside cage door open. “What?”

“Are you two okay? I mean, getting along all right?”

Alec shot her an incredulous look as he stepped out into the entryway. “Everythings going to hell in a handbasket, and you want to know about my relationship with Magnus?”

“Ive always wondered about that expression,” Isabelle said thoughtfully as she hurried after her brother down the hallway. Alec had long, long legs and, though she was fast, it was hard to keep up with him when he wanted it to be. “Why a handbasket? What is a handbasket, and why is it a particularly good form of transportation?”

Alec, who had been Jaces parabatai long enough to have learned to ignore conversational tangents, said, “Magnus and I are okay, I guess. ”

“Uh-oh,” Isabelle said. “Okay, you guess? I know what it means when you say that. What happened? Did you have a fight?”

Alec was tapping his fingers against the wall as they raced along, a sure sign that he was uncomfortable. “Quit trying to meddle around in my love life, Iz. What about you? Why arent you and Simon a couple? You obviously like him. ”

Isabelle let out a squawk. “I am not obvious. ”

“You are, actually,” Alec said, sounding as if it surprised him, too, now that he thought about it. “Gazing at him all moony-eyed. The way you freaked out at the lake when the Angel appeared-”

“I thought Simon was dead!”

“What, more dead?” said Alec unkindly. Seeing the expression on his sisters face, he shrugged. “Look, if you like him, fine. I just dont see why youre not dating. ”

“Because he doesnt like me. ”

“Of course he does. Guys always like you. ”

“Forgive me if I think your opinion is biased. ”

“Isabelle,” Alec said, and now there was kindness in his voice, the tone she associated with her brother-love and exasperation mixed together. “You know youre gorgeous. Guys have chased you since. . . forever. Why would Simon be different?”

She shrugged. “I dont know. But he is. I figure the ball is in his court. He knows how I feel. But I dont think hes rushing to do anything about it. ”

“To be fair, its not like he doesnt have anything else going on. ”

“I know, but-hes always been like this. Clary-”

“You think hes still in love with Clary?”

Isabelle chewed her lip. “I-not exactly. I think shes the one thing he still has from his human life, and he cant let her go. And as long as he doesnt let her go, I dont know if theres room for me. ”

They had almost reached the library. Alec looked sideways at Isabelle through his lashes. “But if theyre just friends-”

“Alec. ” She held up her hand, indicating that he should be quiet. Voices were coming from the library, the first one strident and immediately recognizable as their mothers:

“What do you mean shes missing?”

“No ones seen her in two days,” said another voice-soft, female, and slightly apologetic. “She lives alone, so people werent sure-but we thought, since you know her brother-”

Without a pause Alec straight-armed the door of the library open. Isabelle ducked past him to see her mother sitting behind the massive mahogany desk in the center of the room. In front of her stood two familiar figures: Aline Penhallow, dressed in gear, and beside her Helen Blackthorn, her curly hair in disarray. Both of them turned, looking surprised, as the door opened. Helen, beneath her freckles, was pale; she was also in gear, which drained the color out of her skin even more.

“Isabelle,” said Maryse, rising to her feet. “Alexander. Whats happened?”

Aline reached for Helens hand. Silver rings flashed on both their fingers. The Penhallow ring, with its design of mountains, glinted on Helens finger, while the intertwined thorn pattern of the Blackthorn family ring adorned Alines. Isabelle felt her eyebrows go up; exchanging family rings was serious business. “If were intruding, we can go-” Aline began.

“No, stay,” said Izzy, striding forward. “We might need you. ”

Maryse settled back into her chair. “So,” she said. “My children grace me with their presence. Where have you two been?”

“I told you,” Isabelle said. “We were at Magnuss. ”

“Why?” Maryse demanded. “And Im not asking you, Alexander. Im asking my daughter. ”

“Because the Clave stopped looking for Jace,” said Isabelle. “But we didnt. ”

“And Magnus was willing to help,” Alec added. “Hes been up all these nights, searching through spell books, trying to figure out where Jace might be. He even raised the-”

“No. ” Maryse put up a hand to silence him. “Dont tell me. I dont want to know. ” The black phone on her desk started to ring. They all stared at it. A black phone call was a call from Idris. No one moved to answer it, and in a moment it was silent. “Why are you here?” Maryse demanded, turning her attention back to her offspring.

“We were looking for Jace-,” Isabelle began again.

“Its the Claves job to do that,” Maryse snapped. She looked tired, Isabelle noticed, the skin stretched thin under her eyes. Lines at the corners of her mouth drew her lips into a frown. She was thin enough that the bones of her wrists seemed to protrude. “Not yours. ”

Alec slammed his hand down on the desk, hard enough to make the drawers rattle. “Would you listen to us? The Clave didnt find Jace, but we did. And Sebastian right along with him. And now we know what theyre planning, and we have”-he glanced at the clock on the wall-“barely any time to stop them. Are you going to help or not?”

The black phone rang again. Again Maryse didnt even move to answer it. She was looking at Alec, her face white with shock. “You did what?”

“We know where Jace is, Mom,” said Isabelle. “Or at least, where hes going to be. And what hes going to do. We know Sebastians plan, and he has to be stopped. Oh, and we know how we can kill Sebastian but not Jace-”

“Stop. ” Maryse shook her head. “Alexander, explain. Concisely, and without hysteria. Thank you. ”

Alec launched into the story-leaving out, Isabelle thought, all the good parts, which was how he managed to summarize things so neatly. As abbreviated as his rendition was, both Aline and Helen were gaping by the end of it. Maryse stood very still, her features immobile. When Alec was done, she said in a hushed voice:

“Why have you done these things?”

Alec looked taken aback.

“For Jace,” Isabelle said. “To get him back. ”

“You realize that by putting me in this position, you give me no choice but to notify the Clave,” said Maryse, her hand resting on the black phone. “I wish you hadnt come here. ”

Isabelles mouth went dry. “Are you seriously mad at us for finally telling you whats going on?”

“If I notify the Clave, they will send all their reinforcements. Jia will have no choice but to give them instructions to kill Jace on sight. Do you have any idea how many Shadowhunters Valentines son has following him?

Alec shook his head. “Maybe forty, it sounds like. ”

“Say we brought twice as many as that. We could be fairly confident of defeating his forces, but what kind of chance would Jace have? Theres almost no certainty hed make it through alive. Theyll kill him just to be sure. ”

“Then, we cant tell them,” said Isabelle. “Well go ourselves. Well do this without the Clave. ”

But Maryse, looking at her, was shaking her head. “The Law says we have to tell them. ”

“I dont care about the Law-,” Isabelle began angrily. She caught sight of Aline looking at her, and slammed her mouth shut.

“Dont worry,” Aline said. “Im not going to say anything to my mother. I owe you guys. Especially you, Isabelle. ” She tightened her jaw, and Isabelle remembered the darkness under a bridge in Idris, and her whip tearing into a demon, its claws locked onto Aline. “And besides, Sebastian killed my cousin. The real Sebastian Verlac. I have my own reasons to hate him, you know. ”

“Regardless,” said Maryse. “If we do not tell them, we will be breaking the Law. We could be sanctioned, or worse. ”

“Worse?” said Alec. “What are we talking about here? Exile?”

“I dont know, Alexander,” said his mother. “It would be up to Jia Penhallow, and whoever wins the Inquisitors position, to decide our punishment. ”

“Maybe itll be Dad,” muttered Izzy. “Maybe hell go easy on us. ”

“If we fail to notify them of this situation, Isabelle, there is no chance your father will make Inquisitor. None,” said Maryse.

Isabelle took a deep breath. “Could we get our Marks stripped?” she said. “Could we. . . lose the Institute?”

“Isabelle,” said Maryse. “We could lose everything. ”

Clary blinked, her eyes adjusting to the darkness. She stood on a rocky plain, whipped by wind, with nothing to break the force of the gale. Patches of grass grew up between slabs of gray rock. In the far distance bleak, scree-covered karst hills rose, black and iron against the night sky. There were lights up ahead. Clary recognized the bobbing white glare of witchlight as the door of the apartment swung shut behind them.

There was the sound of a dull explosion. Clary whirled around to see that the door had vanished; there was a charred patch of dirt and grass, still smoldering, where it had been. Sebastian was staring at it in absolute astonishment. “What-”

She laughed. A dark glee rose in her at the look on his face. She had never seen him shocked like that, his pretenses gone, his expression naked and horrified.

He swung the crossbow back up, inches from her chest. If he fired it at this distance, the bolt would tear through her heart, killing her instantly. “What have you done?”

Clary gazed at him with dark triumph. “That rune. The one you thought was an unfinished Opening rune. It wasnt. It just wasnt anything youd ever seen before. It was a rune I created. ”

“A rune for what?”

She remembered putting the stele to the wall, the shape of the rune she had invented on the night when Jace had come to her at Lukes house. “Destroying the apartment the second someone opened the door. The apartments gone. You cant use it again. No one can. ”

“Gone?” The crossbow shook; Sebastians lips were twitching, his eyes wild. “You bitch. You little-”

“Kill me,” she said. “Go ahead. And explain it to Jace afterward. I dare you. ”

He looked at her, his chest heaving up and down, his fingers trembling on the trigger. Slowly he slid his hand away from it. His eyes were small and furious. “There are worse things than dying,” he said. “And I will do them all to you, little sister, once youve drunk from the Cup. And you will like it. ”

She spat at him. He jabbed her hard, agonizingly, in the chest with the tip of the bow. “Turn around,” he snarled, and she did, dizzy with a mixture of terror and triumph as he prodded her down a rocky slope. She was wearing thin slippers, and she felt every pebble and crack in the rocks. As they neared the witchlight, Clary saw the scene laid out before them.

In front of her, the ground rose to a low hill. Atop the hill, facing north, was a massive ancient stone tomb. It reminded her slightly of Stonehenge: there were two narrow standing stones that held up a flat capstone, making the whole assemblage resemble a doorway. In front of the tomb a flat sill stone, like the floor of a stage, stretched across the shale and grass. Grouped before the flat stone was a half-circle of about forty Nephilim, robed in red, carrying witchlight torches. Within their half-circle, against the dark ground, blazed a blue-white pentagram.

Atop the flat stone stood Jace. He wore scarlet gear like Sebastian; they had never looked so alike.

Clary could see the brightness of his hair even from a distance. He was pacing the edge of the flat sill stone, and as they grew closer, Clary driven ahead by Sebastian, she could hear what he was saying.

“. . . gratitude for your loyalty, even over these last difficult years, and grateful for your belief in our father, and now in his sons. And his daughter. ”

A murmur ran around the square. Sebastian shoved Clary forward, and they moved through the shadows, and then climbed up onto the stone behind Jace. Jace saw them and inclined his head before turning back to the crowd; he was smiling. “You are the ones who will be saved,” he said. “A thousand years ago the Angel gave us his blood, to make us special, to make us warriors. But it was not enough. A thousand years have passed, and still we hide in the shadows. We protect mundanes we do not love from forces of which they remain ignorant, and an ancient, ossified Law prevents us from revealing ourselves as their saviors. We die in our hundreds, unthanked, unmourned but by our own kind, and without recourse to the Angel who created us. ” He moved closer to the edge of the rock platform. The Shadowhunters before it were standing in a half-circle. His hair looked like pale fire. “Yes. I dare to say it. The Angel who created us will not aid us, and we are alone. More alone even than the mundanes, for as one of their great scientists once said, they are like children playing with pebbles on the seashore, while all around them the great ocean of truth lies undiscovered. But we know the truth. We are the saviors of this earth, and we should be ruling it. ”

Jace was a good speaker, Clary thought with a sort of pain at her heart, in the same way that Valentine had been. She and Sebastian were behind him now, facing the plain and the crowd on it; she could feel the stares of the gathered Shadowhunters on both of them.

“Yes. Ruling it. ” He smiled, a lovely easy smile, full of charm, edged with darkness. “Raziel is cruel and indifferent to our sufferings. It is time to turn from him. Turn to Lilith, Great Mother, who will give us power without punishment, leadership without the Law. Our birthright is power. It is time to claim it. ”

He looked sideways with a smile as Sebastian moved forward. “And now Ill let you hear the rest of it from Jonathan, whose dream this is,” said Jace smoothly, and he retreated, letting Sebastian slide easily into his place. He took another step back, and now he was beside Clary, his hand reaching down to twine with hers.

“Good speech,” she muttered. Sebastian was speaking; she ignored him, focusing on Jace. “Very convincing. ”

“You think? I was going to start off Friends, Romans, evildoers. . . but I didnt think theyd see the humor. ”

“You think theyre evildoers?”

He shrugged. “The Clave would. ” He looked away from Sebastian, down at her. “You look beautiful,” he said, but his voice was oddly flat. “What happened?”

She was caught off guard. “What do you mean?”

He opened his jacket. Underneath he was wearing a white shirt. It was stained at the side and the sleeve with red. She noticed he was careful to turn away from the crowd as he showed her the blood. “I feel what he feels,” he said. “Or did you forget? I had to iratze myself without anyone noticing. It felt like someone was slicing my skin with a razor blade. ”

Clary met his gaze. There was no point lying, was there? There was no going back, literally or figuratively. “Sebastian and I had a fight. ”

His eyes searched her face. “Well,” he said, letting his jacket fall closed, “I hope youve worked it out, whatever it was. ”

“Jace. . . ,” she began, but he had given his attention to Sebastian now. His profile was cold and clear in the moonlight, like a silhouette cut out of dark paper. In front of them Sebastian, who had set down his crossbow, raised his arms. “Are you with me?” he cried.

A murmur ran around the square, and Clary tensed. One of the group of Nephilim, an older man, threw his hood back and scowled. “Your father made us many promises. None were fulfilled. Why should we trust you?”

“Because I will bring you the fulfillment of my promises now. Tonight,” Sebastian said, and from his tunic he drew the imitation Mortal Cup. It glowed softly white under the moon.

The murmuring was louder now. Under its cover Jace said, “I hope this goes smoothly. I feel like I didnt sleep last night at all. ”

He was facing the crowd and the pentagram, a look of keen interest on his face. His face was delicately angular in the witchlight. She could see the scar on his cheek, the hollows at his temples, the lovely shape of his mouth. I wont remember this, he had said. When Im back-like I was, under his control, I wont remember being myself. And it was true. He had forgotten every detail. Somehow, though she had known it, had seen him forget, the pain of the reality was acute.

Sebastian stepped down off the rock and moved toward the pentagram. At the edge of it he began to chant. “Abyssum invoco. Lilith invoco. Mater mea, invoco. ”

He drew a thin dagger from his belt. Tucking the Cup into the curve of his arm, he used the edge of the blade to slice into his palm. Blood welled, black in the moonlight. He slid the knife back into his belt and held his bleeding hand over the Cup, still chanting in Latin.

It was now or never. “Jace,” Clary whispered. “I know this isnt really you. I know theres a part of you that cant be all right with this. Try to remember who you are, Jace Lightwood. ”

His head whipped around, and he looked at her in astonishment. “What are you talking about?”

“Please try to remember, Jace. I love you. You love me-”

“I do love you, Clary,” he said, an edge to his voice. “But you said you understood. This is it. The culmination of everything weve worked toward. ”

Sebastian flung the contents of the Cup into the center of the pentagram. “Hic est enim calix sanguinis mei. ”

“Not we,” Clary whispered. “Im not part of this. Neither are you-”

Jace inhaled sharply. For a moment Clary thought it was because of what shed said-that maybe, somehow, she was breaking through his shell-but she followed his gaze and saw that a spinning ball of fire had appeared in the center of the pentagram. It was about the size of a baseball, but as she gazed, it grew, elongating and shaping itself, until at last it was the outline of a woman, made all of flames.

“Lilith,” Sebastian said in a ringing voice. “As you called me forth, now I call you. As you gave me life, so I give life to you. ”

Slowly the flames darkened. She stood before them all now, Lilith, half again the height of an ordinary human, stripped naked with her black hair waterfalling down her back to her ankles. Her body was as gray as ash, fissured with black lines like volcanic lava. She turned her eyes to Sebastian, and they were writhing black snakes.

“My child,” she breathed.

Sebastian seemed to glow, like witchlight himself-pale skin, pale hair, and his clothes looked black in the moonlight. “Mother, I have called you up as you wished of me. Tonight you will not just be my mother but mother to a new race. ” He indicated the waiting Shadowhunters, who were motionless, probably with shock. It was one thing to know a Greater Demon was going to be called, another to see one in the flesh. “The Cup,” he said, and held it out to her, its pale white rim stained with his blood.

Lilith chuckled. It sounded like massive stones grinding against one another. She took the Cup and, as casually as one might pick an insect off a leaf, tore a gash in her ashy gray wrist with her teeth. Very slowly, sludgy black blood trickled forth, spattering into the Cup, which seemed to change, darkening under her touch, its clear translucence turning to mud. “As the Mortal Cup has been to the Shadowhunters, both a talisman and a means of transformation, so shall this Infernal Cup be to you,” she said in her charred, windblown voice. She knelt, holding out the Cup to Sebastian. “Take of my blood and drink. ”

Sebastian took the Cup from her hands. It had turned black now, a shimmering black like hematite.

“As your army grows, so shall my strength,” Lilith hissed. “Soon I will be strong enough to truly return-and we shall share the fire of power, my son. ”

Sebastian inclined his head. “We proclaim you Death, my mother, and profess your resurrection. ”

Lilith laughed, raising her arms. Fire licked up her body, and she launched herself into the air, exploding into a dozen spinning particles of light that faded like the embers of a dying fire. When they were gone completely, Sebastian kicked at the pentagram, breaking its continuity, and raised his head. There was an awful smile on his face.

“Cartwright,” he said. “Bring forth the first. ”

The crowd parted, and a robed man pushed forward, a stumbling woman at his side. A chain bound her to his arm, and long, tangled hair hid her face from view. Clary tensed all over. “Jace, what is this? Whats going on?”

“Nothing,” he said, looking ahead absently. “No ones going to be hurt. Just changed. Watch. ”

Cartwright, whose name Clary dimly remembered from her time in Idris, put his hand on his captives head and forced her to their knees. Then he bent and took hold of her hair, jerking her head up. She looked up at Sebastian, blinking in terror and defiance, her face clearly outlined by the moon.

Clary sucked in her breath. “Amatis. ”

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