City of lost souls – Chapter 9: The Iron Sisters

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Chapter 9: The Iron Sisters

Alec raised the witchlight rune-stone high in his hand, brilliant light raying out from it, spotlighting now one corner of the City Hall station and then another. He jumped as a mouse squeaked, running across the dusty platform. He was a Shadowhunter; he had been in many dark places, but there was something about the abandoned air of this station that made a cold shiver run up his spine.

Perhaps it was the chill of disloyalty he had felt, slipping away from his guard post on Staten Island and heading down the hill to the ferry the moment Magnus had left. He hadnt thought about what he was doing; hed just done it, as if he were on autopilot. If he hurried, he was sure he could be back before Isabelle and Jocelyn returned, before anyone realized he had ever been gone.

Alec raised his voice. “Camille!” he called. “Camille Belcourt!”

He heard a light laugh; it echoed off the walls of the station. Then she was there, at the top of the stairs, the brilliance of his witchlight rendering her a silhouette. “Alexander Lightwood,” she said. “Come upstairs. ”

She vanished. Alec followed his darting witchlight up the steps, and found Camille where he had before, in the lobby of the station. She was dressed in the fashion of a bygone era-a long velvet dress nipped in at the waist, her hair dressed high in white-blond curls, her lips dark red. He supposed she was beautiful, though he wasnt the best judge of feminine appeal, and it didnt help that he hated her.

“Whats with the costume?” he demanded.

She smiled. Her skin was very smooth and white, without dark lines-she had fed recently. “A masquerade ball downtown. I fed quite well. Why are you here, Alexander? Starved for good conversation?”

If he were Jace, Alec thought, hed have a smart remark for that, some kind of pun or cleverly disguised put-down. Alec just bit his lip and said, “You told me to come back if I was interested in what you were offering. ”

She ran a hand along the back of the divan, the only piece of furniture in the room. “And youve decided that you are. ”

Alec nodded.

She chuckled. “You understand what youre asking for?”

Alecs heart was pounding. He wondered if Camille could hear it. “You said you could make Magnus mortal. Like me. ”

Her full lips thinned. “I did,” she said. “I must admit, I doubted your interest. You left rather hastily. ”

“Dont play with me,” he said. “I dont want what youre offering that badly. ”

“Liar,” she said casually. “Or you wouldnt be here. ” She moved around the divan, coming close to him, her eyes raking his face. “Up close,” she said, “you do not look so much like Will as I had thought. You have his coloring, but a different shape to your face. . . perhaps a slight weakness to your jaw-”

“Shut up,” he said. Okay, it wasnt Jace-level wit, but it was something. “I dont want to hear about Will. ”

“Very well. ” She stretched, languorously, like a cat. “It was many years ago, when Magnus and I were lovers. We were in bed together, after quite a passionate evening. ” She saw him flinch, and grinned. “You know how it is with pillow talk. One reveals ones weaknesses. Magnus spoke to me of a spell that existed, one that might be undertaken to rid a warlock of their immortality. ”

“So why dont I just find out what the spell is and do it?” Alecs voice rose and cracked. “Why do I need you?”

“First, because youre a Shadowhunter; youve no idea how to work a spell,” she said calmly. “Second, because if you do it, hell know it was you. If I do it, he will assume it is revenge. Spite on my part. And I do not care what Magnus thinks. But you do. ”

Alec looked at her steadily. “And youre going to do this for me as a favor?”

She laughed, like tinkling bells. “Of course not,” she said. “You do a favor for me, and I will do one for you. That is how these matters are conducted. ”

Alecs hand tightened around the witchlight rune-stone until the edges cut into his hand. “And what favor do you want from me?”

“Its very simple,” she said. “I want you to kill Raphael Santiago. ”

The bridge that crossed the crevasse surrounding the Adamant Citadel was lined with knives. They were sunk, point upward, at random intervals along the path, so that it was possible to cross the bridge only very slowly, by picking your way with dexterity. Isabelle had little trouble but was surprised to see how lightly Jocelyn, who hadnt been an active Shadowhunter in fifteen years, made her way.

By the time Isabelle had reached the opposite side of the bridge, her dexteritas rune had vanished into her skin, leaving a faint white mark behind. Jocelyn was only a step behind her, and as aggravating as Isabelle found Clarys mother, she was glad in a moment, when Jocelyn raised her hand and a witchlight rune-stone blazed forth, illuminating the space they stood in.

The walls were hewn from white-silver adamas, so that a dim light seemed to glow from within them. The floor was demon-stone as well, and carved into the center of it was a black circle. Inside the circle the symbol of the Iron Sisters was carved-a heart punctured through and through by a blade.

Whispering voices made Isabelle tear her gaze from the floor and look up. A shadow had appeared inside one of the smooth white walls-a shadow growing ever clearer, ever closer. Suddenly a portion of the wall slid back and a woman stepped out.

She wore a long, loose white gown, bound tightly at the wrists and under her breasts with silver-white cord-demon wire. Her face was both unwrinkled and ancient. She could have been any age. Her hair was long and dark, hanging in a thick braid down her back. Across her eyes and temples was an intricately curlicued tattooed mask, encircling both her eyes, which were the orange color of leaping flames.

“Who calls on the Iron Sisters?” she said. “Speak your names. ”

Isabelle looked toward Jocelyn, who gestured that she should speak first. She cleared her throat. “I am Isabelle Light-wood, and this is Jocelyn Fr-Fairchild. We have come to ask your help. ”

“Jocelyn Morgenstern,” said the woman. “Born Fairchild, but you cannot so easily erase the taint of Valentine from your past. Have you not turned your back on the Clave?”

“It is true,” said Jocelyn. “I am outcast. But Isabelle is a daughter of the Clave. Her mother-”

“Runs the New York Institute,” said the woman. “We are remote here but not without sources of information; I am no fool. My name is Sister Cleophas, and I am a Maker. I shape the adamas for the other sisters to carve. I recognize that whip you wind so cunningly around your wrist. ” She indicated Isabelle. “As for that bauble about your throat-”

“If you know so much,” said Jocelyn, as Isabelles hand crept to the ruby at her neck, “then do you know why we are here? Why we have come to you?”

Sister Cleophass eyelids lowered and she smiled slowly. “Unlike our speechless brethren, we cannot read minds here in the Fortress. Therefore we rely upon a network of information, most of it very reliable. I assume this visit has something to do with the situation involving Jace Lightwood-as his sister is here-and your son, Jonathan Morgenstern. ”

“We have a conundrum,” said Jocelyn. “Jonathan Morgenstern plots against the Clave, like his father. The Clave has issued a death warrant against him. But Jace-Jonathan Lightwood-is very much loved by his family, who have done no wrong, and by my daughter. The conundrum is that Jace and Jonathan are bound, by very ancient blood magic. ”

“Blood magic? What sort of blood magic?”

Jocelyn took Magnuss folded notes from the pocket of her gear and handed them over. Cleophas studied them with her intent fiery gaze. Isabelle saw with a start that the fingers of her hands were very long-not elegantly long but grotesquely so, as if the bones had been stretched so that each hand resembled an albino spider. Her nails were filed to points, each tipped with electrum.

She shook her head. “The Sisters have little to do with blood magic. ” The flame color of her eyes seemed to leap and then dim, and a moment later another shadow appeared behind the frosted-glass surface of the adamas wall. This time Isabelle watched more closely as a second Iron Sister stepped through. It was like watching someone emerge from a haze of white smoke.

“Sister Dolores,” said Cleophas, handing Magnuss notes to the new arrival. She looked much like Cleophas-the same tall narrow form, the same white dress, the same long hair, though in this case her hair was gray, and bound at the ends of her two braids with gold wire. Despite her gray hair, her face was lineless, her fire-colored eyes bright. “Can you make sense of this?”

Dolores glanced over the pages briefly. “A twinning spell,” she said. “Much like our own parabatai ceremony, but its alliance is demonic. ”

“What makes it demonic?” Isabelle demanded. “If the parabatai spell is harmless-”

“Is it?” said Cleophas, but Dolores shot her a quelling look.

“The parabatai ritual binds two individuals but leaves their wills free,” Dolores explained. “This binds two but makes one subordinate to the other. What the primary of the two believes, the other will believe; what the first one wants, the second will want. It essentially removes the free will of the secondary partner in the spell, and that is why it is demonic. For free will is what makes us Heavens creatures. ”

“It also seems to mean that when one is wounded, the other is wounded,” said Jocelyn. “Might we presume the same about death?”

“Yes. Neither will survive the death of the other. This again is not part of our parabatai ritual, for it is too cruel. ”

“Our question to you is this,” said Jocelyn. “Is there any weapon forged, or that you might create, that could harm one but not the other? Or that might cut them apart?

Sister Dolores looked down at the notes, then handed them to Jocelyn. Her hands, like those of her colleague, were long and thin and as white as floss. “No weapon we have forged or could ever forge might do that. ”

Isabelles hand tightened at her side, her nails cutting into her palm. “You mean theres nothing?”

“Nothing in this world,” said Dolores. “A blade of Heaven or Hell might do it. The sword of the Archangel Michael, that Joshua fought with at Jericho, for it is infused with heavenly fire. And there are blades forged in the blackness of the Pit that might aid you, though how one might be obtained, I do not know. ”

“And we would be prevented from telling you by the Law if we did know,” said Cleophas with asperity. “You understand, of course, that we will also have to tell the Clave about this visit of yours-”

“What about Joshuas sword?” interrupted Isabelle. “Can you get that? Or can we?”

“Only an angel can gift you that sword,” said Dolores. “And to summon an angel is to be blasted with heavenly fire. ”

“But Raziel-,” Isabelle began.

Cleophass lips thinned into a straight line. “Raziel left us the Mortal Instruments that he might be called upon in a time of direst need. That one chance was wasted when Valentine summoned him. We shall never be able to compel his might again. It was a crime to use the Instruments in that manner. The only reason that Clarissa Morgenstern escapes culpability is that it was her father who summoned him, not herself. ”

“My husband also summoned another angel,” said Jocelyn. Her voice was quiet. “The angel Ithuriel. He kept him imprisoned for many years. ”

Both Sisters hesitated before Dolores spoke. “It is the bleakest of crimes to entrap an angel,” she said. “The Clave could never approve it. Even if you could summon one, you could never force it to do your bidding. There is no spell for that. You could never get an angel to give you the archangels sword; you can take by force from an angel, but there is no greater crime. Better that your Jonathan die than that an angel be so besmirched. ”

At that, Isabelle, whose temper had been rising, exploded. “Thats the problem with you-all of you, the Iron Sisters and the Silent Brothers. Whatever they do to change you from Shadowhunters to what you are, it takes all the feelings out of you. We might be part angel, but were part human, too. You dont understand love, or the things people do for love, or family-”

The flame leaped in Doloress orange eyes. “I had a family,” she said. “A husband and children, all murdered by demons. There was nothing left to me. I had always had a skill with shaping things with my hands, so I became an Iron Sister. The peace it has brought me is peace I think I would never have found elsewhere. It is for that reason I chose the name Dolores, “sorrow. ” So do not presume to tell us what we do or do not know about pain, or humanity. ”

“You dont know anything,” Isabelle snapped. “Youre as hard as demon-stone. No wonder you surround yourselves with it. ”

“Fire tempers gold, Isabelle Lightwood,” said Cleophas.

“Oh, shut up,” Isabelle said. “Youve been very unhelpful, both of you. ”

She turned on the heel of her boot, spun away, and stalked back across the bridge, barely taking note of where the knives turned the path into a death trap, letting her bodys training guide her. She reached the other side and strode through the gates; only when she was outside them did she break down. Kneeling among the moss and volcanic rocks, under the great gray sky, she let herself shake silently, though no tears came.

It seemed ages before she heard a soft step beside her, and Jocelyn knelt and put her arms around her. Oddly, Isabelle found that she didnt mind. Though she had never much liked Jocelyn, there was something so universally motherly in her touch that Isabelle leaned into it, almost against her own will.

“Do you want to know what they said, after you left?” Jocelyn asked, after Isabelles trembling had slowed.

“Im sure something about how Im a disgrace to Shadowhunters everywhere, et cetera. ”

“Actually, Cleophas said youd make an excellent Iron Sister, and if you were ever interested to let them know. ” Jocelyns hand stroked her hair lightly.

Despite everything, Isabelle choked back a laugh. She looked up at Jocelyn. “Tell me,” she said.

Jocelyns hand stop moving. “Tell you what?”

“Who it was. That my father had the affair with. You dont understand. Every time I see a woman my mothers age, I wonder if it was her. Lukes sister. The Consul. You-”

Jocelyn sighed. “It was Annamarie Highsmith. She died in Valentines attack on Alicante. I doubt you ever knew her. ”

Isabelles mouth opened, then closed again. “Ive never even heard her name before. ”

“Good. ” Jocelyn tucked a lock of Isabelles hair back. “Do you feel any better, now that you know?”

“Sure,” Isabelle lied, staring down at the ground. “I feel a lot better. ”

After lunch Clary had returned to the downstairs bedroom with the excuse that she was exhausted. With the door firmly closed she had tried contacting Simon again, though she realized, given the time difference between where she was now-Italy-and New York, there was every chance he was asleep. At least she prayed he was asleep. It was far preferable to hope for that than to consider the possibility that the rings might not work.

She had been in the bedroom for only about half an hour when a knock sounded at the door. She called, “Come in,” moving to lean back on her hands, her fingers curled in as if she could hide the ring.

The door swung open slowly, and Jace looked down at her from the doorway. She remembered another night, summer heat, a knock on her door. Jace. Clean, in jeans and a gray shirt, his washed hair a halo of damp gold. The bruises on his face were already fading from purple to faint gray, and his hands were behind his back.

“Hey,” he said. His hands were in plain sight now, and he was wearing a soft-looking sweater the color of bronze that brought out the gold in his eyes. There were no bruises on his face, and the shadows she had almost grown used to seeing under his eyes were gone.

Is he happy like this? Really happy? And if he is, what are you saving him from?

Clary pushed away the tiny voice in her head and forced a smile. “Whats up?”

He grinned. It was a wicked grin, the kind that made the blood in Clarys veins run a little faster. “You want to go on a date?”

Caught off guard, she stammered. “A wh-what?”

“A date,” Jace repeated. “Often a boring thing you have to memorize in history class, but in this case, an offer of an evening of blisteringly white-hot romance with yours truly. ”

“Really?” Clary was not sure what to make of this. “Blisteringly white-hot?”

“Its me,” said Jace. “Watching me play Scrabble is enough to make most women swoon. Imagine if I actually put in some effort. ”

Clary sat up and looked down at herself. Jeans, silky green top. She thought about the cosmetics in that odd shrine-like bedroom. She couldnt help it; she was wishing for a little lip gloss.

Jace held his hand out. “You look gorgeous,” he said. “Lets go. ”

She took his hand and let him pull her to her feet. “I dont know. . . ”

“Come on. ” His voice had that self-mocking, seductive tone she remembered from when they had first been getting to know each other, when hed brought her up to the greenhouse to show her the flower that bloomed at midnight. “Were in Italy. Venice. One of the most beautiful cities in the world. Shame not to see it, dont you think?”

Jace pulled her forward, so she fell against his chest. The material of his shirt was soft under her fingers, and he smelled like his familiar soap and shampoo. Her heart took a sweeping dive inside her chest. “Or we could stay in,” he said, sounding a little breathless.

“So I can swoon watching you make a triple-word score?” With an effort she pulled back from him. “And spare me the jokes about scoring. ”

“Dammit, woman, you read my mind,” he said. “Is there no filthy wordplay you cant foresee?”

“Its my special magical power. I can read your mind when youre thinking dirty thoughts. ”

“So, ninety-five percent of the time. ”

She craned her head back to look up at him. “Ninety-five percent? Whats the other five percent?”

“Oh, you know, the usual-demons I might kill, runes I need to learn, people whove annoyed me recently, people whove annoyed me not so recently, ducks. ”

“Ducks?”

He waved her question away. “All right. Now watch this. ” He took her shoulders and turned her gently, so they were both facing the same way. A moment later-she wasnt sure how-the walls of the room seemed to melt away around them, and she found herself stepping out onto cobblestones. She gasped, turning to look behind her, and saw only a blank wall, windows high up in an old stone building. Rows of similar houses lined the canal they stood beside. If she craned her head to the left, she could see in the distance that the canal opened out into a much larger waterway, lined with grand buildings. Everywhere was the smell of water and stone.

“Cool, huh?” Jace said proudly.

She turned and looked at him. “Ducks?” she said again.

A smile tugged the edge of his mouth. “I hate ducks. Dont know why. I just always have. ”

It was early morning when Maia and Jordan arrived at Praetor House, the headquarters of the Praetor Lupus. The truck clanked and bumped over the long white drive that swept through manicured lawns to the massive house that rose like the prow of a ship in the distance. Behind it Maia could see strips of trees, and behind that, the blue water of the Sound some distance away.

“This is where you did your training?” she demanded. “This place is gorgeous. ”

“Dont be fooled,” Jordan said with a smile. “This place is boot camp, emphasis on the boot. ”

She looked sideways at him. He was still smiling. He had been, pretty much nonstop, since shed kissed him down by the beach at dawn. Part of Maia felt as if a hand had lifted her up and dropped her back into her past, when shed loved Jordan beyond anything shed ever imagined, and part of her felt totally adrift, as if shed woken up in a completely foreign landscape, far from the familiarity of her everyday life and the warmth of the pack.

It was very peculiar. Not bad, she thought. Just. . . peculiar.

Jordan came to a stop at a circular drive in front of the house, which, up close, Maia could see was built of blocks of golden stone, the tawny color of a wolf pelt. Black double doors were set at the top of a massive stone staircase. In the center of the circular drive was a massive sundial, its raised face telling her that it was seven in the morning. Around the edge of the sundial, words were carved: I ONLY MARK THE HOURS THAT SHINE.

She unlocked her door and jumped down from the cab just as the doors of the house opened and a voice rang out: “Praetor Kyle!”

Jordan and Maia both looked up. Descending the stairs was a middle-aged man in a charcoal suit, his blond hair streaked with gray. Jordan, smoothing all expression from his face, turned to him. “Praetor Scott,” he said. “This is Maia Roberts, of the Garroway pack. Maia, this is Praetor Scott. He runs the Praetor Lupus, pretty much. ”

“Since the 1800s the Scotts have always run the Praetor,” said the man, glancing at Maia, who inclined her head, a sign of submission. “Jordan, I have to admit, we did not expect you back again so soon. The situation with the vampire in Manhattan, the Daylighter-”

“Is in hand,” Jordan said hastily. “Thats not why were here. This concerns something quite different. ”

Praetor Scott raised his eyebrows. “Now youve piqued my curiosity. ”

“Its a matter of some urgency,” said Maia. “Luke Garroway, our packs leader-”

Praetor Scott gave her a sharp look, silencing her. Though he might have been packless, he was an alpha, that much was clear from his bearing. His eyes, under his thick eyebrows, were green-gray; around his throat, under the collar of his shirt, sparkled the bronze pendant of the Praetor, with its imprint of a wolfs paw. “The Praetor chooses what matters it will regard as urgent,” he said. “Nor are we a hotel, open to uninvited guests. Jordan took a chance in bringing you here, and he knows that. If he were not one of our most promising graduates, I might well send you both away. ”

Jordan hooked his thumbs into the waistband of his jeans and looked at the ground. A moment later Praetor Scott set his hand on Jordans shoulder.

“But,” he said, “you are one of our most promising graduates. And you look exhausted; I can see you were up all night. Come, and well discuss this in my office. ”

The office turned out to be down a long and winding hallway, elegantly paneled in dark wood. The house was lively with the sound of voices, and a sign saying HOUSE RULES was pinned to the wall beside a staircase leading up.

HOUSE RULES

No shape-shifting in the hallways.

No howling.

No silver.

Clothes must be worn at all times. ALL TIMES.

No fighting. No biting.

Mark all your food before you put it in the communal refrigerator.

The smell of cooking breakfast wafted through the air, making Maias stomach grumble. Praetor Scott sounded amused. “Ill have someone make us up a plate of snacks if youre hungry. ”

“Thanks,” Maia muttered. They had reached the end of a hallway, and Praetor Scott opened a door marked OFFICE.

The older werewolfs eyebrows drew together. “Rufus,” he said. “What are you doing here?”

Maia peered past him. The office was a large room, comfortably messy. There was a rectangular picture window that gave out onto wide lawns, on which groups of mostly young people were executing what looked like drill maneuvers, wearing black warm-up pants and tops. The walls of the room were lined with books about lycanthropy, many in Latin, but Maia recognized the word “lupus. ” The desk was a slab of marble set upon the statues of two snarling wolves.

In front of it were two chairs. In one of them sat a large man-a werewolf-hunched over, his hands gripped together. “Praetor,” he said in a grating voice. “I had hoped to speak with you regarding the incident in Boston. ”

“The one in which you broke your assigned charges leg?” the Praetor said dryly. “I will be speaking to you about it, Rufus, but not this moment. Something more pressing calls me. ”

“But, Praetor-”

“That will be all, Rufus,” said Scott in the ringing tone of an alpha wolf whose orders were not to be challenged. “Remember, this is a place of rehabilitation. Part of that is learning to respect authority. ”

Muttering under his breath, Rufus rose from the chair. Only when he stood up did Maia realize, and react to, his enormous size. He towered over both her and Jordan, his black T-shirt straining over his chest, the sleeves about to split around his biceps. His head was closely shaved, his face scored with deep claw marks all across one cheek, like furrows dug in soil. He gave her a sour look as he stalked past them and out into the hall.

“Of course some of us,” Jordan muttered, “are easier to rehabilitate than others. ”

As Rufuss heavy tread faded down the hall, Scott threw himself into the high-backed chair behind the desk and buzzed a joltingly modern-looking intercom. After requesting breakfast in a terse voice, he leaned back, hands clasped behind his head.

“Im all ears,” he said.

As Jordan recounted their story, and their request, to Praetor Scott, Maia couldnt keep her eyes and mind from wandering. She wondered what it would have been like to have been raised here, in this elegant house of rules and regulations, rather than with the comparatively lawless freedom of the pack. At some point a werewolf dressed all in black-it seemed to be the regulation outfit of the Praetor-came in with sliced roast beef, cheese, and protein drinks on a pewter tray. Maia eyed the breakfast with some dismay. It was true that werewolves needed more protein than normal people, much more, but roast beef for breakfast?

“Youll find,” Praetor Scott said as Maia drank her protein shake gingerly, “that, in fact, refined sugar is harmful to werewolves. If you cease consuming it for a period of time, you will cease desiring it. Hasnt your pack leader told you that?”

Maia tried to imagine Luke, who liked to make pancakes in odd and amusing shapes, lecturing her about sugar, and failed. Now was not the time to mention that, though. “No, he has, of course,” she said. “I tend to, ah, backslide in times of stress. ”

“I understand your concern for your pack leader,” said Scott. A gold Rolex glinted on his wrist. “Normally we maintain a strict policy of noninterference regarding matters not related to new-fledged Downworlders. We do not, in fact, prioritize werewolves over other Downworlders, though only lycanthropes are allowed into the Praetor. ”

“But thats exactly why we do need your help,” said Jordan. “Packs are by their nature always moving, transitional. They have no opportunity to build up things like libraries of stored knowledge. Im not saying they dont have wisdom, but everything is an oral tradition and every pack knows different things. We could go from pack to pack, and maybe someone would know how to cure Luke, but we dont have time. Here”-he gestured at the books lining the walls-“is the closest thing werewolves have to, say, the archives of the Silent Brothers or the Spiral Labyrinth of the warlocks. ”

Scott looked unconvinced. Maia set her protein shake down. “And Luke isnt just any pack leader,” she said. “Hes the lyncanthropes representative on the Council. If you helped cure him, you would know that the Praetor would always have a Council voice in their favor. ”

Scotts eyes glinted. “Interesting,” he said. “Very well. Ill have a look through the books. Itll probably take a few hours. Jordan, I suggest that if youre going to drive back to Manhattan you get some rest. We dont need you wrapping your truck around a tree. ”

“I could drive-,” Maia began.

“You look equally exhausted. Jordan, as you know, there will always be a room for you here at the Praetor House, even though youve graduated. And Nick is on assignment, so theres a bed for Maia. Why dont you both get some rest, and Ill call you down when Im finished. ” He swiveled around in his chair to examine the books on the walls.

Jordan gestured to Maia that this was their cue to leave; she stood up, brushing crumbs off her jeans. She was halfway to the door when Praetor Scott spoke again.

“Oh, and Maia Roberts,” he said, and his voice held a note of warning. “I hope you understand that when you make promises in other peoples names, it falls upon your head to make sure they follow through. ”

Simon awoke still feeling exhausted, blinking in the darkness. The thick black curtains over the windows let in very little light, but his internal body clock told him it was daytime. That and the fact that Isabelle was gone, her side of the bed rumpled, the covers turned back.

Daytime, and he hadnt talked to Clary since shed gone. He drew his hand out from under the covers and looked at the gold ring on his right hand. Delicate, it was etched with what were either designs or words in an alphabet he didnt know.

Clenching his jaw, he sat up and touched the ring. Clary?

The answer was immediate and clear. He nearly slid off the bed with relief. Simon. Thank God.

Can you talk?

No. He felt rather than heard a tense distraction in the voice of her mind. Im glad you spoke to me, but now isnt good. Im not alone.

But youre all right?

Im fine. Nothings happened yet. Im trying to gather information. I promise Ill talk to you the moment I hear anything.

Okay. Take care of yourself.

You too.

And she was gone. Sliding his legs over the side of the mattress, Simon did his best to flatten his sleep-mussed hair, and went to see if anyone else was awake.

They were. Alec, Magnus, Jocelyn, and Isabelle sat around the table in Magnuss living room. While Alec and Magnus were in jeans, both Jocelyn and Isabelle wore gear, Isabelle with her whip wrapped around her right arm. She glanced up as he came in but didnt smile; her shoulders were tense, her mouth a thin line. They all had mugs of coffee in front of them.

“Theres a reason the ritual of the Mortal Instruments was so complicated. ” Magnus made the sugar bowl float over to himself and dumped some of the white powder into his coffee. “Angels act at the behest of God, not human beings-not even Shadowhunters. Summon one, and youre likely to find yourself blasted with divine wrath. The whole point of the Mortal Instruments ritual wasnt that it allowed someone to summon Raziel. It was that it protected the summoner from the Angels wrath once he did appear. ”

“Valentine-,” Alec began.

“Yes, Valentine also summoned a very minor angel. And it never spoke to him, did it? Never gave him a sliver of help, though he harvested its blood. And even then he must have been using incredibly powerful spells just to bind it. My understanding is that he tied its life to the Wayland manor, so that when the angel died the manor collapsed to rubble. ” He tapped a blue-painted fingernail on his mug. “And he damned himself. Whether you believe in Heaven and Hell or not, he damned himself surely. When he summoned Raziel, Raziel struck him down. Partly in revenge for what Valentine had done to his brother angel. ”

“Why are we talking about summoning angels?” Simon asked, perching himself on the end of the long table.

“Isabelle and Jocelyn went to see the Iron Sisters,” said Alec. “Looking for a weapon that could be used on Sebastian that wouldnt affect Jace. ”

“And there isnt one?”

“Nothing in this world,” said Isabelle. “A Heavenly weapon might do it, or something with a seriously demonic alliance. We were exploring the first option. ”

“Summoning up an angel to give you a weapon?”

“Its happened before,” said Magnus. “Raziel gave the Mortal Sword to Jonathan Shadowhunter. In the old stories, the night before the battle of Jericho, an angel appeared and gave Joshua a sword. ”

“Huh,” said Simon. “I would have thought angels would have been all about peace, not weapons. ”

Magnus snorted. “Angels are not just messengers. They are soldiers. Michael is said to have routed armies. They are not patient, angels. Certainly not with the vicissitudes of human beings. Anyone who tried to summon Raziel without the Mortal Instruments to protect them would probably be blasted to death on the spot. Demons are easier to summon. There are more of them, and many are weak. But then, a weak demon can help you only so much-”

“We cant summon a demon,” said Jocelyn, aghast. “The Clave-”

“I thought you stopped caring what the Clave thought of you years ago,” Magnus said.

“Its not just me,” said Jocelyn. “The rest of you. Luke. My daughter. If the Clave knew-”

“Well, they wont know, will they?” said Alec, his usually gentle voice edged. “Unless you tell them. ”

Jocelyn looked from Isabelles still face to Magnuss inquiring one, to Alecs stubborn blue eyes. “Youre really considering this? Summoning a demon?”

“Well, not just any demon,” said Magnus. “Azazel. ”

Jocelyns eyes blazed. “Azazel?” Her eyes scanned the others, as if looking for support, but Izzy and Alec glanced down at their mugs, and Simon just shrugged.

“I dont know who Azazel is,” he said. “Isnt he the cat from The Smurfs?” He cast about, but Isabelle just looked up and rolled her eyes at him. Clary? he thought.

Her voice came through, tinged with alarm. What is it? Whats happened? Did my mom find out Im gone?

Not yet, he thought back. Is Azazel the cat from The Smurfs?

There was a long pause. Thats Azrael, Simon. And no more using the magic rings for Smurf questions.

And she was gone. Simon glanced up from his hand and saw Magnus looking at him quizzically. “Hes not a cat, Sylvester,” he said. “Hes a Greater Demon. Lieutenant of Hell and Forger of Weapons. He was an angel who taught mankind how to make weapons, when before it had been knowledge only angels possessed. That caused him to fall, and now he is a demon. And the whole earth has been corrupted by the works that were taught by Azazel. To him ascribe all sin. ”

Alec looked at Magnus in amazement. “How did you know all that?”

“Hes a friend of mine,” said Magnus, and, noting their expressions, sighed. “Okay, not really. But it is in the Book of Enoch. ”

“Seems dangerous. ” Alec frowned. “It sounds like hes beyond a Greater Demon, even. Like Lilith. ”

“Fortunately, he is already bound,” said Magnus. “If you summon him, his spirit form will come to you but his corporeal self will remain bound to the jagged rocks of Duduael. ”

“The jagged rocks of. . . Oh, whatever,” Isabelle said, winding her long dark hair into a bun. “Hes the demon of weapons. Fine. I say we give it a go. ”

“I cant believe youre even considering this,” said Jocelyn. “I learned from watching my husband what dabbling in raising demons can do. Clary-” She broke off then, as if sensing Simons gaze on her, and turned. “Simon,” she said, “do you know, is Clary awake yet? Weve been letting her sleep, but its almost eleven. ”

Simon hesitated. “I dont know. ” This, he reasoned, was true. Wherever Clary was, she could be asleep. Even though he had just talked to her.

Jocelyn looked puzzled. “But werent you in the room with her?”

“No, I wasnt. I was-” Simon broke off, realizing the hole hed just dug himself. There were three spare bedrooms. Jocelyn had been in one, Clary the other. Which would obviously mean he must have slept in the third room with-

“Isabelle?” said Alec, his eyebrows raised. “You slept in Isabelles room?”

Isabelle waved a hand. “No need to worry, big brother. Nothing happened. Of course,” she added as Alecs shoulders relaxed, “I was totally passed-out drunk, so he could really have done whatever he wanted and I wouldnt have woken up. ”

“Oh, please,” said Simon. “All I did was tell you the entire plot of Star Wars. ”

“I dont think I remember that,” said Isabelle, taking a cookie from the plate on the table.

“Oh, yeah? Who was Luke Skywalkers best childhood friend?”

“Biggs Darklighter,” Isabelle said immediately, and then hit the table with the flat of her hand. “That is so cheating!” Still, she grinned at him around her cookie.

“Ah,” said Magnus. “Nerd love. It is a beautiful thing, while also being an object of mockery and hilarity for those of us who are more sophisticated. ”

“All right, thats enough. ” Jocelyn stood up. “Im going to get Clary. If youre going to raise a demon, I dont want to be here, and I dont want my daughter here either. ” She headed toward the hallway.

Simon blocked her way. “You cant do that,” he said.

Jocelyn looked at him with a set face. “I know youre going to say that this is the safest place for us, Simon, but with a demon being raised, I just-”

“Its not that. ” Simon took a deep breath, which didnt help, since his blood no longer processed oxygen. He felt slightly sick. “You cant go wake her up because. . . because she isnt here. ”

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