Tuesday, 6 November 2012

City of Ashes - Chapter 1

"Are you still mad?"
Alec, leaning against the wall of the elevator, glared across the small space at Jace. "I'm not
"Oh, yes you are." Jace gestured accusingly at his stepbrother, then yelped as pain shot up his
arm. Every part of him hurt from the thumping he'd taken that afternoon when he'd dropped three
floors through rotted wood onto a pile of scrap metal. Even his fingers were bruised. Alec, who'd
only recently put away the crutches he'd had to use after his fight with Abbadon, didn't look
much better than Jace felt. His clothes were covered in mud and his hair hung down in lank,
sweaty strips. There was a long cut down the side of his cheek.
"I am not," Alec said, through his teeth. "Just because you said dragon demons were
"I said mostly extinct."
Alec jabbed a finger toward him. "Mostly extinct," he said, his voice trembling with rage, "is
"I see," said Jace. "I'll just have them change the entry in the demonology textbook from
'almost extinct' to 'not extinct enough for Alec. He prefers his monsters really, really extinct.' Will
that make you happy?"
"Boys, boys," said Isabelle, who'd been examining her face in the elevator's mirrored wall.
"Don't fight." She turned away from the glass with a sunny smile. "All right, so it was a little more
action than we were expecting, but I thought it was fun."
Alec looked at her and shook his head. "How do you manage never to get mud on you?"
Isabelle shrugged philosophically. "I'm pure at heart. It repels the dirt."
Jace snorted so loudly that she turned on him with a frown. He wiggled his mud-caked fingers
at her. His nails were black crescents. "Filthy inside and out."
Isabelle was about to reply when the elevator ground to a halt with the sound of screeching
brakes. "Time to get this thing fixed," she said, yanking the door open. Jace followed her out into
the entryway, already looking forward to shucking his armor and weapons and stepping into a hot
shower. He'd convinced his stepsiblings to come hunting with him despite the fact that neither of
them was entirely comfortable going out on their own now that Hodge wasn't there to give them
instructions. But Jace had wanted the oblivion of fighting, the harsh diversion of killing, and the
Previous Top Next
distraction of injuries. And knowing he wanted it, they'd gone along with it, crawling through filthy
deserted subway tunnels until they'd found the Dragonidae demon and killed it. The three of them
working together in perfect unison, the way they always had. Like family.
He unzipped his jacket and slung it over one of the pegs hanging on the wall. Alec was sitting
on the low wooden bench next to him, kicking off his muck-covered boots. He was humming
tunelessly under his breath, letting Jace know he wasn't that annoyed. Isabelle was pulling the pins
out of her long dark hair, allowing it to shower down around her. "Now I'm hungry," she said. "I
wish Mom were here to cook us something."
"Better that she isn't," said Jace, unbuckling his weapons belt. "She'd already be shrieking
about the rugs."
"You're right about that," said a cool voice, and Jace swung around, his hands still at his belt,
and saw Maryse Lightwood, her arms folded, standing in the doorway. She wore a stiff black
traveling suit and her hair, black as Isabelle's, was drawn back into a thick rope that hung halfway
down her back. Her eyes, a glacial blue, swept over the three of them like a tracking searchlight.
"Mom!" Isabelle, recovering her composure, ran to her mother for a hug. Alec got to his feet
and joined them, trying to hide the fact that he was still limping.
Jace stood where he was. There had been something in Maryse's eyes as her gaze had passed
over him that froze him in place. Surely what he had said wasn't that bad? They joked about her
obsession with the antique rugs all the time—
"Where's Dad?" Isabelle asked, stepping back from her mother. "And Max?"
There was an almost imperceptible pause. Then Maryse said, "Max is in his room. And your
father, unfortunately, is still in Alicante. There was some business there that required his
Alec, generally more sensitive to moods than his sister, seemed to hesitate. "Is something
"I could ask you that." His mother's tone was dry. "Are you limping?"
Alec was a terrible liar. Isabelle picked up for him, smoothly:
"We had a run-in with a Dragonidae demon in the subway tunnels. But it was nothing."
"And I suppose that Greater Demon you fought last week, that was nothing too?"
Even Isabelle was silenced by that. She looked to Jace, who wished she hadn't.
"That wasn't planned for." Jace was having a hard time concentrating. Maryse hadn't greeted
him yet, hadn't said so much as hello, and she was still looking at him with eyes like blue daggers.
There was a hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach that was beginning to spread. She'd never
looked at him like this before, no matter what he'd done. "It was a mistake—"
"Jace!" Max, the youngest Lightwood, squeezed his way around Maryse and darted into the
room, evading his mother's reaching hand. "You're back! You're all back." He turned in a circle,
grinning at Alec and Isabelle in triumph. "I thought I heard the elevator."
"And I thought I told you to stay in your room," said Maryse.
"I don't remember that," said Max, with a seriousness that made even Alec smile. Max was
small for his age—he looked about seven—but he had a self-contained gravity that, combined
with his oversize glasses, gave him the air of someone older. Alec reached over and ruffled his
brother's hair, but Max was still looking at Jace, his eyes shining. Jace felt the cold fist clenched in
his stomach relax ever so slightly. Max had always hero-worshiped him in a way that he didn't
worship his own older brother, probably because Jace was far more tolerant of Max's presence.
"I heard you fought a Greater Demon," he said. "Was it awesome?"
"It was … different," Jace hedged. "How was Alicante?"
"It was awesome. We saw the coolest stuff. There's this huge armory in Alicante and they
took me to some of the places where they make the weapons. They showed me a new way to
make seraph blades too, so they last longer, and I'm going to try to get Hodge to show me—"
Jace couldn't help it; his eyes flicked instantly to Maryse, his expression incredulous. So Max
didn't know about Hodge? Hadn't she told him?
Maryse saw his look and her lips thinned into a knifelike line. "That's enough, Max." She took
her youngest son by the arm.
He craned his head to look up at her in surprise. "But I'm talking to Jace—"
"I can see that." She pushed him gently toward Isabelle. "Isabelle, Alec, take your brother to
his room. Jace,"—there was a tightness in her voice when she spoke his name, as if invisible acid
were drying up the syllables in her mouth—"get yourself cleaned up and meet me in the library as
soon as you can."
"I don't get it," said Alec, looking from his mother to Jace, and back again. "What's going
Jace could feel cold sweat start up along his spine. "Is this about my father?"
Maryse jerked twice, as if the words "my father" had been two separate slaps. "The library,"
she said, through clenched teeth. "We'll discuss the matter there."
Alec said, "What happened while you were gone wasn't Jace's fault. We were all in on it. And
Hodge said—"
"We'll discuss Hodge later as well." Maryse's eyes were on Max, her tone warning.
"But, Mother," Isabelle protested. "If you're going to punish Jace, you should punish us as
well. It would only be fair. We all did exactly the same things."
"No," said Maryse, after a pause so long that Jace thought perhaps she wasn't going to say
anything at all. "You didn't."
"Rule number one of anime," Simon said. He sat propped up against a pile of pillows at the
foot of his bed, a bag of potato chips in one hand and the TV remote in the other. He was
wearing a black T-shirt that said I BLOGGED YOUR MOM and a pair of jeans with a hole
ripped in one knee. "Never screw with a blind monk."
"I know," Clary said, taking a potato chip and dunking it into the can of dip balanced on the
TV tray between them. "For some reason they're always way better fighters than monks who can
see." She peered at the screen. "Are those guys dancing?"
"That's not dancing. They're trying to kill each other. This is the guy who's the mortal enemy
of the other guy, remember? He killed his dad. Why would they be dancing?"
Clary crunched at her chip and stared meditatively at the screen, where animated swirls of pink
and yellow clouds rippled between the figures of two winged men, who floated around each
other, each clutching a glowing spear. Every once in a while one of them would speak, but since it
was all in Japanese with Chinese subtitles, it didn't clarify much. "The guy with the hat," she said.
"He was the evil guy?"
"No, the hat guy was the dad. He was the magical emperor, and that was his hat of power.
The evil guy was the one with the mechanical hand that talks."
The telephone rang. Simon set the bag of chips down and made as if to get up and answer it.
Clary put her hand on his wrist. "Don't. Just leave it."
"But it might be Luke. He could be calling from the hospital."
"It's not Luke," Clary said, sounding more sure than she felt. "He'd call my cell, not your
Simon looked at her a long moment before sinking back down on the rug beside her. "If you
say so." She could hear the doubt in his voice, but also the unspoken assurance, I just want you
to be happy. She wasn't sure "happy" was anything she was likely to be right now, not with her
mother in the hospital hooked up to tubes and bleeping machines, and Luke like a zombie,
slumped in the hard plastic chair next to her bed. Not with worrying about Jace all the time and
picking up the phone a dozen times to call the Institute before setting it back down, the number
still undialed. If Jace wanted to talk to her, he could call.
Maybe it had been a mistake to take him to see Jocelyn. She'd been so sure that if her mother
could just hear the voice of her son, her firstborn, she'd wake up. But she hadn't. Jace had stood
stiff and awkward by the bed, his face like a painted angel's, with blank indifferent eyes. Clary had
finally lost her patience and shouted at him, and he'd shouted back before storming off. Luke had
watched him go with a clinical sort of interest on his exhausted face. "That's the first time I've
seen you act like sister and brother," he'd remarked.
Clary had said nothing in response. There was no point telling him how badly she wanted Jace
not to be her brother. You couldn't rip out your own DNA, no matter how much you wished you
could. No matter how much it would make you happy.
But even if she couldn't quite manage happy, she thought, at least here in Simon's house, in his
bedroom, she felt comfortable and at home. She'd known him long enough to remember when he
had a bed shaped like a fire truck and LEGOs piled in a corner of the room. Now the bed was a
futon with a brightly striped quilt that had been a present from his sister, and the walls were
plastered with posters of bands like Rock Solid Panda and Stepping Razor. There was a drum set
wedged into the corner of the room where the LEGOs had been, and a computer in the other
corner, the screen still frozen on an image from World of Warcraft. It was almost as familiar as
being in her own bedroom at home—which no longer existed, so at least this was the next best
"More chibis," said Simon gloomily. All the characters on-screen had turned into inch-high
baby versions of themselves and were chasing each other around waving pots and pans. "I'm
changing the channel," Simon announced, seizing the remote. "I'm tired of this anime. I can't tell
what the plot is and no one ever has sex."
"Of course they don't," Clary said, taking another chip. "Anime is wholesome family
"If you're in the mood for less wholesome entertainment, we could try the porn channels,"
Simon observed. "Would you rather watch The Witches of Breastwick or As I Lay Dianne?"
"Give me that!" Clary grabbed for the remote, but Simon, chortling, had already switched the
TV to another channel.
His laughter broke off abruptly. Clary looked up in surprise and saw him staring blankly at the
TV. An old black-and-white movie was playing—Dracula. She'd seen it before, with her mother.
Bela Lugosi, thin and white-faced, was on-screen, wrapped in the familiar high-collared cloak, his
lips curled back from his pointed teeth. "I never drink…wine," he intoned in his thick Hungarian
"I love how the spiderwebs are made out of rubber," Clary said, trying to sound light. "You
can totally tell."
But Simon was already on his feet, dropping the remote onto the bed. "I'll be right back," he
muttered. His face was the color of winter sky just before it rained. Clary watched him go, biting
her lip hard—it was the first time since her mother had gone to the hospital that she'd realized
maybe Simon wasn't too happy either.
Toweling off his hair, Jace regarded his reflection in the mirror with a quizzical scowl. A
healing rune had taken care of the worst of his bruises, but it hadn't helped the shadows under his
eyes or the tight lines at the corners of his mouth. His head ached and he felt slightly dizzy. He
knew he should have eaten something that morning, but he'd woken up nauseated and panting
from nightmares, not wanting to pause to eat, just wanting the release of physical activity, to burn
out his dreams in bruises and sweat.
Tossing the towel aside, he thought longingly of the sweet black tea Hodge used to brew from
the night-blooming flowers in the greenhouse. The tea had taken away hunger pangs and brought
a swift surge of energy. Since Hodge's death, Jace had tried boiling the plants' leaves in water to
see if he could produce the same effect, but the only result was a bitter, ashy-tasting liquid that
made him gag and spit.
Barefoot, he padded into the bedroom and threw on jeans and a clean shirt. He pushed back
his wet blond hair, frowning. It was too long at the moment, falling into his eyes—something
Maryse would be sure to chide him about. She always did. He might not be the Lightwoods'
biological son, but they'd treated him like it since they'd adopted him at age ten, after the death of
his own father. The supposed death, Jace reminded himself, that hollow feeling in his guts
resurfacing again. He'd felt like a jack-o'-lantern for the past few days, as if his guts had been
yanked out with a fork and dumped in a heap while a grinning smile stayed plastered on his face.
He often wondered if anything he'd believed about his life, or himself, had ever been true. He'd
thought he was an orphan—he wasn't. He'd thought he was an only child—he had a sister.
Clary. The pain came again, stronger. He pushed it down. His eyes fell on the bit of broken
mirror that lay atop his dresser, still reflecting green boughs and a diamond of blue sky. It was
nearly twilight now in Idris: The sky was dark as cobalt. Choking on hollowness, Jace yanked his
boots on and headed downstairs to the library.
He wondered as he clattered down the stone steps just what it was that Maryse wanted to say
to him alone. She'd looked like she'd wanted to haul off and smack him. He couldn't remember
the last time she'd laid a hand on him. The Lightwoods weren't given to corporal punishment—
quite a change from being brought up by Valentine, who'd concocted all sorts of painful
castigations to encourage obedience. Jace's Shadowhunter skin always healed, covering all but the
worst of the evidence. In the days and weeks after his father died Jace could remember searching
his body for scars, for some mark that would be a token, a remembrance to tie him physically to
his father's memory.
He reached the library and knocked once before pushing the door open. Maryse was there,
sitting in Hodge's old chair by the fire. Light streamed down through the high windows and Jace
could see the touches of gray in her hair. She was holding a glass of red wine; there was a cutglass
decanter on the table beside her.
"Maryse," he said.
She jumped a little, spilling some of the wine. "Jace. I didn't hear you come in."
He didn't move. "Do you remember that song you used to sing to Isabelle and Alec—when
they were little and afraid of the dark—to get them to fall asleep?"
Maryse appeared taken aback. "What are you talking about?"
"I used to hear you through the walls," he said. "Alec's bedroom was next to mine then."
She said nothing.
"It was in French," Jace said. "The song."
"I don't know why you'd remember something like that." She looked at him as if he'd accused
her of something.
"You never sang to me."
There was a barely perceptible pause. Then, "Oh, you," she said. "You were never afraid of
the dark."
"What kind of ten-year-old is never afraid of the dark?"
Her eyebrows went up. "Sit down, Jonathan," she said. "Now."
He went, just slowly enough to annoy her, across the room, and threw himself into one of the
wing-back chairs beside the desk. "I'd rather you didn't call me Jonathan."
"Why not? It's your name." She looked at him consideringly. "How long have you known?"
"Known what?"
"Don't be stupid. You know exactly what I'm asking you." She turned her glass in her fingers.
"How long have you known that Valentine is your father?"
Jace considered and discarded several responses. Usually he could get his way with Maryse
by making her laugh. He was one of the only people in the world who could make her laugh.
"About as long as you have."
Maryse shook her head slowly. "I don't believe that."
Jace sat up straight. His hands were in fists where they rested on the chair arms. He could see
a slight tremor in his fingers, wondered if he'd ever had it before. He didn't think so. His hands
had always been as steady as his heartbeat. "You don't believe me?"
He heard the incredulity in his own voice and winced inwardly. Of course she didn't believe
him. That had been obvious from the moment she had arrived home.
"It doesn't make sense, Jace. How could you not know who your own father is?"
"He told me he was Michael Wayland. We lived in the Wayland country house—"
"A nice touch," said Maryse, "that. And your name? What's your real name?"
"You know my real name."
"Jonathan Christopher. I knew that was Valentine's son's name. I knew Michael had a son
named Jonathan too. It's a common enough Shadowhunter name—I never thought it was strange
they shared it, and as for Michael's boy's middle name, I never inquired. But now I can't help
wondering. What was Michael Wayland's son's real middle name? How long had Valentine been
planning what he was going to do? How long did he know he was going to murder Jonathan
Wayland—?" She broke off, her eyes fixed on Jace. "You never looked like Michael, you know,"
she said. "But sometimes children don't look like their parents. I didn't think about it before. But
now I can see Valentine in you. The way you're looking at me. That defiance. You don't care
what I say, do you?"
But he did care. All he was good at was making sure she couldn't see it. "Would it make a
difference if I did?"
She set the glass down on the table beside her. It was empty. "And you answer questions with
questions to throw me off, just like Valentine always did. Maybe I should have known."
"Maybe nothing. I'm still exactly the same person I've been for the past seven years. Nothing's
changed about me. If I didn't remind you of Valentine before, I don't see why I would now."
Her glance moved over him and away as if she couldn't bear to look directly at him. "Surely
when we talked about Michael, you must have known we couldn't possibly have meant your
father. The things we said about him could never have applied to Valentine."
"You said he was a good man." Anger twisted inside him. "A brave Shadowhunter. A loving
father. I thought that seemed accurate enough."
"What about photographs? You must have seen photographs of Michael Wayland and
realized he wasn't the man you called your father." She bit her lip. "Help me out here, Jace."
"All the photographs were destroyed in the Uprising. That's what you told me. Now I wonder
if it wasn't because Valentine had them all burned so nobody would know who was in the Circle.
I never had a photograph of my father," Jace said, and wondered if he sounded as bitter as he
Maryse put a hand to her temple and massaged it as if her head were aching. "I can't believe
this," she said, as if to herself. "It's insane."
"So don't believe it. Believe me," Jace said, and felt the tremor in his hands increase.
She dropped her hand. "Don't you think I want to?" she demanded, and for a moment he
heard the echo in her voice of the Maryse who'd come into his bedroom at night when he was ten
years old and staring dry-eyed at the ceiling, thinking of his father—and she'd sat by the bed with
him until he'd fallen asleep just before dawn.
"I didn't know," Jace said again. "And when he asked me to come with him back to Idris, I
said no. I'm still here. Doesn't that count for anything?"
She turned to look back at the decanter, as if considering another drink, then seemed to
discard the idea. "I wish it did," she said. "But there are so many reasons your father might want
you to remain at the Institute. Where Valentine is concerned, I can't afford to trust anyone his
influence has touched."
"His influence touched you," Jace said, and instantly regretted it at the look that flashed across
her face.
"And I repudiated him," said Maryse. "Have you? Could you?" Her blue eyes were the same
color as Alec's, but Alec had never looked at him like this. "Tell me you hate him, Jace. Tell me
you hate that man and everything he stands for."
A moment passed, and another, and Jace, looking down, saw that his hands were so tightly
fisted that the knuckles stood out white and hard like the bones in a fish's spine. "I can't say that."
Maryse sucked in her breath. "Why not?"
"Why can't you say that you trust me? I've lived with you almost half my life. Surely you must
know me better than that?"
"You sound so honest, Jonathan. You always have, even when you were a little boy trying to
pin the blame for something you'd done wrong on Isabelle or Alec. I've only ever met one person
who could sound as persuasive as you."
Jace tasted copper in his mouth. "You mean my father."
"There were only ever two kinds of people in the world for Valentine," she said. "Those who
were for the Circle and those who were against it. The latter were enemies, and the former were
weapons in his arsenal. I saw him try to turn each of his friends, even his own wife, into a weapon
for the Cause—and you want me to believe he wouldn't have done the same with his own son?"
She shook her head. "I knew him better than that." For the first time, Maryse looked at him with
more sadness than anger. "You are an arrow shot directly into the heart of the Clave, Jace. You
are Valentine's arrow. Whether you know it or not."
Clary shut the bedroom door on the blaring TV and went to look for Simon. She found him in
the kitchen, bent over the sink with the water running. His hands were braced on the draining
"Simon?" The kitchen was a bright, cheerful yellow, the walls decorated with framed chalk and
pencil sketches Simon and Rebecca had done in grade school. Rebecca had some drawing talent,
you could tell, but Simon's sketches of people all looked like parking meters with tufts of hair.
He didn't look up now, though she could tell by the tightening of his shoulder muscles that
he'd heard her. She went over to the sink, laying a hand lightly on his back. She felt the sharp
nubs of his spine through the thin cotton T-shirt and wondered if he'd lost weight. She couldn't
tell by looking at him, but looking at Simon was like looking in a mirror—when you saw someone
every day, you didn't always notice small changes in their outward appearance. "Are you okay?"
He turned the water off with a hard jerk of his wrist. "Sure. I'm fine."
She laid a finger against the side of his chin and turned his face toward her. He was sweating,
the dark hair that lay across his forehead stuck to his skin, though the air coming through the halfopen
kitchen window was cool. "You don't look fine. Was it the movie?"
He didn't answer.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have laughed, it's just—"
"You don't remember?" His voice sounded hoarse.
"I…" Clary trailed off. That night, looking back, seemed a long haze of running, of blood and
sweat, of shadows glimpsed in doorways, of falling through space. She remembered the white
faces of the vampires, like paper cutouts against the darkness, and remembered Jace holding her,
shouting hoarsely into her ear. "Not really. It's a blur."
His gaze flicked past her and then back. "Do I seem different to you?" he asked.
She raised her eyes to his. His were the color of black coffee—not really black, but a rich
brown without a touch of gray or hazel. Did he seem different? There might have been an extra
touch of confidence in the way he held himself since the day he'd killed Abbadon, the Greater
Demon; but there was also a wariness about him, as if he were waiting or watching for something.
It was something she had noticed about Jace as well. Perhaps it was only the awareness of
mortality. "You're still Simon."
He half-closed his eyes as if in relief, and as his eyelashes lowered, she saw how angular his
cheekbones looked. He had lost weight, she thought, and was about to say so when he leaned
down and kissed her.
She was so surprised at the feel of his mouth on hers that she went rigid all over, grabbing for
the edge of the draining board to support herself. She did not, however, push him away, and
clearly taking this as a sign of encouragement, Simon slid his hand behind her head and deepened
the kiss, parting her lips with his. His mouth was soft, softer than Jace's had been, and the hand
that cupped her neck was warm and gentle. He tasted like salt.
She let her eyes fall shut and for a moment floated dizzily in the darkness and the heat, the feel
of his fingers moving through her hair. When the harsh ring of the telephone cut through her daze,
she jumped back as if he'd pushed her away, though he hadn't moved. They stared at each other
for a moment, in wild confusion, like two people finding themselves suddenly transported to a
strange landscape where nothing was familiar.
Simon turned away first, reaching for the phone that hung on the wall beside the spice rack.
"Hello?" He sounded normal, but his chest was rising and falling fast. He held the receiver out to
Clary. "It's for you."
Clary took the phone. She could still feel the pounding of her heart in her throat, like the
fluttering wings of an insect trapped under her skin. It's Luke, calling from the hospital.
Something's happened to my mother.
She swallowed. "Luke? Is it you?"
"No. It's Isabelle."
"Isabelle?" Clary looked up and saw Simon watching her, leaning against the sink. The flush
on his cheeks had faded. "Why are you—I mean, what's up?"
There was a hitch in the other girl's voice, as if she'd been crying. "Is Jace there?"
Clary actually held out the phone so she could stare at it before bringing the receiver back to
her ear. "Jace? No. Why would he be here?"
Isabelle's answering breath echoed down the phone line like a gasp. "The thing is … he's


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