Tuesday, 6 November 2012

City of Ashes - Chapter 5

The darkness of the prisons of the Silent City was more profound than any darkness Jace
had ever known. He couldn't see the shape of his own hand in front of his eyes, couldn't see the
floor or ceiling of his cell. What he knew of the cell, he knew from the torchlit first glimpse he'd
had, guided down here by a contingent of Silent Brothers, who had opened the barred gate of the
cell for him and ushered him inside as if he were a common criminal.
Then again, that's probably exactly what they thought he was.
He knew that the cell had a flagged stone floor, that three of the walls were hewn rock, and
that the fourth was made of narrowly spaced electrum bars, each end sunk deeply into stone. He
knew there was a door set into those bars. He also knew that a long metal bar ran along the east
wall, because the Silent Brothers had attached one loop of a pair of silver cuffs to this bar, and
the other cuff to his wrist. He could walk up and down the cell a few steps, rattling like Marley's
ghost, but that was as far as he could go. He had already rubbed his right wrist raw yanking
thoughtlessly at the cuff. At least he was left-handed—a small bright spot in the impenetrable
blackness. Not that it mattered much, but it was reassuring to have his better fighting hand free.
He began another slow promenade along the length of his cell, trailing his fingers along the wall
as he walked. It was unnerving not to know what time it was. In Idris his father had taught him to
tell time by the angle of the sun, the length of afternoon shadows, the position of the stars in the
night sky. But there were no stars here. In fact, he had begun to wonder if he would ever see the
sky again.
Jace paused. Now, why had he wondered that? Of course he'd see the sky again. The Clave
weren't going to kill him. The penalty of death was reserved for murderers. But the flutter of fear
stayed with him, just under his rib cage, strange as an unexpected twinge of pain. Jace wasn't
exactly prone to random fits of panic—Alec would have said he could have benefited from a bit
more in the way of constructive cowardice. Fear wasn't something that had ever affected him
He thought of Maryse saying, You were never afraid of the dark.
It was true. This anxiety was unnatural, not like him at all. There had to be more to it than
simple darkness. He took another shallow breath. He just had to get through the night. One night.
That was it. He took another step forward, his manacle jingling drearily.
A sound split the air, freezing him in his tracks. It was a high, howling ululation, a sound of
pure and mindless terror. It seemed to go on and on like a singing note plucked from a violin,
growing higher and thinner and sharper until it was abruptly cut off.
Jace swore. His ears were ringing, and he could taste terror in his mouth, like bitter metal. Who
would have thought that fear had a taste? He pressed his back against the wall of the cell, willing
himself to calm down.
The sound came again, louder this time, and then there was another scream, and another.
Something crashed overhead, and Jace ducked involuntarily before remembering that he was
several levels below ground. He heard another crash, and a picture formed in his mind:
mausoleum doors smashing open, the corpses of centuries-dead Shadowhunters staggering free,
nothing more than skeletons held together by dried tendon, dragging themselves across the white
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floors of the Silent City with fleshless, bony fingers—
Enough! With a gasp of effort, Jace forced the vision away. The dead did not come back.
And besides, they were the corpses of Nephilim like himself, his slain brothers and sisters. He had
nothing to fear from them. So why was he so afraid? He clenched his hands into fists, nails
digging into his palms. This panic was unworthy of him. He would master it. He would crush it
down. He took a deep breath, filling his lungs, just as another scream sounded, this one very
loud. The breath rasped out of his chest as something crashed loudly, very close to him, and he
saw a sudden bloom of light, a hot fire-flower stabbing into his eyes.
Brother Jeremiah staggered into view, his right hand clutching a still -burning torch, his
parchment hood fallen back to reveal a face torqued into a grotesque expression of terror. His
previously sewn-shut mouth gaped open in a soundless scream, the gory threads of torn stitches
dangling from his shredded lips. Blood, black in the torchlight, spattered his light robes. He took
a few staggering steps forward, his hands outstretched—and then, as Jace watched in utter
disbelief, Jeremiah pitched forward and fell headlong to the floor. Jace heard the shatter of bones
as the archivist's body struck the ground and the torch sputtered, rolling out of Jeremiah's hand
and toward the shallow stone gutter cut into the floor just outside the barred cell door.
Jace went to his knees instantly, stretching as far as the chain would let him, his fingers
reaching for the torch. He couldn't quite touch it. The light was fading rapidly, but by its waning
glow he could see Jeremiah's dead face turned toward him, blood still leaking from his open
mouth. His teeth were gnarled black stubs.
Jace's chest felt as if something heavy were pressed against it. The Silent Brothers never
opened their mouths, never spoke or laughed or screamed. But that had been the sound Jace had
heard, he was sure of it now—the screams of men who hadn't cried out in half a century, the
sound of a terror more profound and powerful than the ancient Rune of Silence. But how could
that be? And where were the other Brothers?
Jace wanted to scream for help, but the weight was still on his chest, pressing down. He
couldn't seem to get enough air. He lunged for the torch again and felt one of the small bones in
his wrist shatter. Pain shot up his arm, but it gave him the extra inch he needed. He swept the
torch into his hand and rose to his feet. As the flame leaped back into life, he heard another noise.
A thick noise, a sort of ugly, dragging slither. The hair on the back of his neck stood up, sharp as
needles. He thrust the torch forward, his shaking hand sending wild flicks of light dancing across
the walls, brilliantly illuminating the shadows.
There was nothing there.
Instead of relief, though, he felt his terror intensify. He was now gasping in air in great sucking
drafts, as if he'd been underwater. The fear was all the worse because it was so unfamiliar. What
had happened to him? Had he suddenly become a coward?
He jerked hard against the manacle, hoping the pain would clear his head. It didn't. He heard
the noise again, the thumping slither, and now it was close. There was another sound too, behind
the slither, a soft, constant whispering. He had never heard any sound quite so evil. Half out of his
mind with horror, he staggered back against the wall and raised the torch in his wildly jerking
For a moment, bright as daylight, he saw the whole room: the cell, the barred door, the bare
flagstones beyond, and the dead body of Jeremiah huddled against the floor. There was a door
just behind Jeremiah. It was opening slowly. Something heaved its way through the door.
Something huge and dark and formless. Eyes like burning ice, sunk deep into dark folds, regarded
Jace with a snarling amusement. Then the thing lunged forward. A great cloud of roiling vapor
rose up in front of Jace's eyes like a wave sweeping across the surface of the ocean. The last
thing he saw was the flame of his torch guttering green and blue before it was swallowed up by
the darkness.
Kissing Simon was pleasant. It was a gentle sort of pleasant, like lying in a hammock on a
summer day with a book and a glass of lemonade. It was the sort of thing you could keep doing
and not feel bored or apprehensive or disconcerted or bothered by much of anything except the
fact that the metal bar on the sofa bed was digging into your back.
"Ouch," Clary said, trying to wriggle away from the bar and not succeeding.
"Did I hurt you?" Simon raised himself up on his side, looking concerned. Or maybe it was
just that without his glasses his eyes seemed twice as large and dark.
"No, not you—the bed. It's like a torture instrument."
"I didn't notice," he said somberly, as she grabbed a pillow from the floor, where it had fallen,
and wedged it underneath them.
"You wouldn't." She laughed. "Where were we?"
"Well, my face was approximately where it is now, but your face was a lot closer to mine.
That's what I remember, anyway."
"How romantic." She pulled him down on top of her, where he balanced on his elbows. Their
bodies lay neatly aligned and she could feel the beat of his heart through both their T-shirts. His
lashes, normally hidden behind his glasses, brushed her cheek when he leaned to kiss her. She let
out a shaky little laugh. "Is this weird for you?" she whispered.
"No. I think when you imagine something often enough, the reality of it seems—"
"No. No!" Simon pulled back, looking at her with nearsighted conviction. "Don't ever think
that. This is the opposite of anticlimactic. It's—"
Suppressed giggles bubbled up in her chest. "Okay, maybe you don't want to say that,
He half-closed his eyes, his mouth curving into a smile. "Okay, now I want to say something
smart-ass back at you, but all I can think is…" She grinned up at him. "That you want sex?"
"Stop that." He caught her hands with his, pinned them to the bedspread, and looked down at
her gravely. "That I love you."
"So you don't want sex?"
He let go of her hands. "I didn't say that."
She laughed and pushed at his chest with both hands. "Let me up."
He looked alarmed. "I didn't mean I only want sex…"
"It's not that. I want to change into my pajamas. I can't take making out seriously when I still
have my socks on."
He watched her mournfully while she gathered up her pajamas from the dresser and headed
into the bathroom. Pulling the door closed, she made a face at him. "I'll be right back."
Whatever he said in response was lost as she shut the door. She brushed her teeth and then
ran the water in the sink for a long time, staring at herself in the medicine cabinet mirror. Her hair
was tousled and her cheeks were red. Did that count as glowing, she wondered? People in love
were supposed to glow, weren't they? Or maybe that was just pregnant women, she couldn't
remember exactly, but surely she was supposed to look a little different. After all, this was the
first real long kissing session she'd ever had—and it was nice, she told herself, safe and pleasant
and comfortable.
Of course, she'd kissed Jace, on the night of her birthday, and that hadn't been safe and
comfortable and pleasant at all. It had been like opening up a vein of something unknown inside
her body, something hotter and sweeter and bitterer than blood. Don't think about Jace, she told
herself fiercely, but looking at herself in the mirror, she saw her eyes darken and knew her body
remembered even if her mind didn't want to.
She ran the water cold and splashed it over her face before reaching for her pajamas. Great,
she realized, she'd brought her pajama bottoms in with her but not the top. However much Simon
might appreciate it, it seemed early to break out the topless sleeping arrangements. She went back
into the bedroom, only to discover that Simon was asleep in the center of the bed, clutching the
bolster pillow as if it were a human being. She stifled a laugh.
"Simon…," she whispered—then she heard the sharp two-tone beep that signaled that a text
message had just arrived on her cell phone. The phone itself was lying folded on the bedside
table; Clary picked it up and saw that the message was from Isabelle.
She flipped the phone open and scrolled hastily down to the text. She read it twice, just to
make sure she wasn't imagining things. Then she ran to the closet to get her coat.
The voice spoke out of the blackness: slow, dark, familiar as pain. Jace blinked his eyes open
and saw only darkness. He shivered. He was lying curled on the icy flagstone floor. He must have
fainted. He felt a stab of fury at his own weakness, his own frailty.
He rolled onto his side, his torn wrist throbbing in its manacle. "Is anyone there?"
"Surely you recognize your own father, Jonathan." The voice came again, and Jace did know
it: its sound of old iron, its smooth near-tonelessness. He tried to scramble to his feet but his
boots slipped on a puddle of something and he skidded backward, his shoulders hitting the stone
wall hard. His chain rattled like a chorus of steel wind chimes.
"Are you hurt?" A light blazed upward, searing Jace's eyes. He blinked away burning tears and
saw Valentine standing on the other side of the bars, beside the corpse of Brother Jeremiah. A
glowing witchlight stone in one hand cast a sharp whitish glow over the room. Jace could see the
stains of old blood on the walls—and newer blood, a small lake of it, which had spilled from
Jeremiah's open mouth. He felt his stomach roil and clench, and thought of the black formless
shape he'd seen before with eyes like burning jewels. "That thing," he choked out. "Where is it?
What was it?"
"You are hurt." Valentine moved closer to the bars. "Who ordered you locked up here? Was
it the Clave? The Lightwoods?"
"It was the Inquisitor." Jace looked down at himself. There was more blood on his pants legs
and on his shirt. He couldn't tell if any of it was his. Blood was seeping slowly from beneath his
Valentine regarded him thoughtfully through the bars. It was the first time in years Jace had
seen his father in real battle dress—the thick leather Shadowhunter clothes that allowed freedom
of movement while protecting the skin from most kinds of demon venom; the electrum-plated
braces on his arms and legs, each marked with a series of glyphs and runes. There was a wide
strap across his chest and the hilt of a sword gleamed above his shoulder. He squatted down
then, putting his cool black eyes on a level with Jace's. Jace was surprised to see no anger in
them. "The Inquisitor and the Clave are one and the same. And the Lightwoods should never have
allowed this to happen. I would never have let anyone do this to you."
Jace pressed his shoulders back against the wall; it was as far as his chain would let him get
from his father. "Did you come down here to kill me?"
"Kill you? Why would I want to kill you?"
"Well, why did you kill Jeremiah? And don't bother feeding me some story about how you just
happened to wander along after he spontaneously died. I know you did this."
For the first time Valentine glanced down at the body of Brother Jeremiah. "I did kill him, and
the rest of the Silent Brothers as well. I had to. They had something I needed."
"What? A sense of decency?"
"This," said Valentine, and drew the Sword from his shoulder sheath in one swift movement.
Jace choked back the gasp of surprise that rose in his throat. He recognized it well enough:
The huge, heavy-bladed silver Sword with the hilt in the shape of outspread wings was the one
that hung above the Speaking Stars in the Silent Brothers' council room. "You took the Silent
Brothers' sword?"
"It was never theirs," Valentine said. "It belongs to all Nephilim. This is the blade with which
the Angel drove Adam and Eve out of the garden. And he placed at the east of the garden of
Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way," he quoted, gazing down at the
Jace licked his dry lips. "What are you going to do with it?"
"I'll tell you that," said Valentine, "when I think I can trust you, and I know that you trust me."
"Trust you? After the way you sneaked through the Portal at Renwick's and smashed it so I
couldn't come after you? And the way you tried to kill Clary?"
"I would never have hurt your sister," said Valentine, with a flash of anger. "Any more than I
would hurt you."
"All you've ever done is hurt me! It was the Lightwoods who protected me!"
"I'm not the one who locked you up here. I'm not the one who threatens and distrusts you.
That's the Lightwoods and their friends in the Clave." Valentine paused. "Seeing you like this—
how they've treated you, and yet you remain stoic—I'm proud of you."
At that, Jace looked up in surprise, so quickly that he felt a wave of dizziness. His hand gave
an insistent throb. He pushed the pain down and back until his breathing eased. "What?"
"I realize now what I did wrong at Renwick's," Valentine went on. "I was picturing you as the
little boy I left behind in Idris, obedient to my every wish. Instead I found a headstrong young
man, independent and courageous, yet I treated you as if you were still a child. No wonder you
rebelled against me."
"Rebelled? I—" Jace's throat tightened, cutting off the words he wanted to say. His heart had
begun pounding in rhythm with the throbbing in his hand.
Valentine pressed on. "I never had a chance to explain my past to you, to tell you why I've
done the things I've done."
"There's nothing to explain. You killed my grandparents. You held my mother prisoner. You
slew other Shadowhunters to further your own ends." Every word in Jace's mouth tasted like
"You only know half the facts, Jonathan. I lied to you when you were a child because you
were too young to understand. Now you are old enough to be told the truth."
"So tell me the truth."
Valentine reached through the bars of the cell and laid his hand on top of Jace's. The rough,
callused texture of his fingers felt exactly the way it had when Jace had been ten years old.
"I want to trust you, Jonathan," he said. "Can I?"
Jace wanted to reply, but the words wouldn't come. His chest felt as if an iron band was being
slowly tightened around it, cutting off his breath by inches. "I wish…," he whispered.
A noise sounded above them. A noise like the clang of a metal door; then Jace heard
footsteps, whispers echoing off the City's stone walls. Valentine started to his feet, closing his
hand over the witchlight until it was only a dim glow and he himself was a faintly outlined shadow.
"Quicker than I thought," he murmured, and looked down at Jace through the bars.
Jace looked past him, but he could see nothing but blackness beyond the faint illumination of
the witchlight. He thought of the roiling dark form he had seen before, crushing out all light before
it. "What's coming? What is it?" he demanded, scrabbling forward on his knees.
"I must go," said Valentine. "But we're not done, you and I."
Jace put his hand to the bars. "Unchain me. Whatever it is, I want to be able to fight it."
"Unchaining you would hardly be a kindness now." Valentine closed his hand around the
witchlight stone completely. It winked out, plunging the room into darkness. Jace flung himself
against the bars of the cell, his broken hand screaming its protest and pain.
"No!" he shouted. "Father, please."
"When you want to find me," Valentine said, "you will find me." And then there was only the
sound of his footsteps rapidly receding and Jace's own ragged breathing as he slumped against
the bars.
On the subway ride uptown Clary found herself unable to sit down. She paced up and down
the near-empty train car, her iPod headphones dangling around her neck. Isabelle hadn't picked
up the phone when Clary had called her, and an irrational sense of worry gnawed at Clary's
She thought of Jace at the Hunter's Moon, covered in blood. With his teeth bared in snarling
anger, he'd looked more like a werewolf himself than a Shadowhunter charged with protecting
humans and keeping Downworlders in line.
She charged up the stairs at the Ninety-sixth Street subway stop, only slowing to a walk as she
approached the corner where the Institute hulked like a huge gray shadow. It had been hot down
in the tunnels, and the sweat on the back of her neck was prickling coldly as she made her way up
the cracked concrete walk to the Institute's front door.
She reached for the enormous iron bellpull that hung from the architrave, then hesitated. She
was a Shadowhunter, wasn't she? She had a right to be in the Institute, just as much as the
Lightwoods did. With a surge of resolve, she seized the door handle, trying to remember the
words Jace had spoken. "In the name of the Angel, I—"
The door swung open onto a darkness starred by the flames of dozens of tiny candles. As she
hurried between the pews, the candles flickered as if they were laughing at her. She reached the
elevator and clanged the metal door shut behind her, stabbing at the buttons with a shaking finger.
She willed her nervousness to subside—was she worried about Jace, she wondered, or just
worried about seeing Jace? Her face, framed by the upturned collar of her coat, looked very white
and small, her eyes big and dark green, her lips pale and bitten. Not pretty at all, she thought in
dismay, and forced the thought back. What did it matter how she looked? Jace didn't care. Jace
couldn't care.
The elevator came to a clanging stop and Clary pushed the door open. Church was waiting for
her in the foyer. He greeted her with a disgruntled meow.
"What's wrong, Church?" Her voice sounded unnaturally loud in the quiet room. She
wondered if anyone were here in the Institute. Maybe it was just her. The thought gave her the
creeps. "Is anyone home?"
The blue Persian turned his back and headed down the corridor. They passed the music room
and the library, both empty, before Church turned another corner and sat down in front of a
closed door. Right, then. Here we are, his expression seemed to say.
Before she could knock, the door opened, revealing Isabelle standing on the threshold,
barefoot in a pair of jeans and a soft violet sweater. She started when she saw Clary. "I thought I
heard someone coming down the hall, but I didn't think it would be you," she said. "What are you
doing here?"
Clary stared at her. "You sent me that text message. You said the Inquisitor threw Jace in
"Clary!" Isabelle glanced up and down the corridor, then bit her lip. "I didn't mean you should
race down here right now."
Clary was horrified. "Isabelle! Jail!"
"Yes, but—" With a defeated sigh, Isabelle stood aside, gesturing for Clary to enter her room.
"Look, you might as well come in. And shoo, you," she said, waving a hand at Church. "Go
guard the elevator."
Church gave her a horrified look, lay down on his stomach, and went to sleep.
"Cats," Isabelle muttered, and slammed the door.
"Hey, Clary." Alec was sitting on Isabelle's unmade bed, his booted feet dangling over the
side. "What are you doing here?"
Clary sat down on the padded stool in front of Isabelle's gloriously messy vanity table.
"Isabelle texted me. She told me what happened to Jace."
Isabelle and Alec exchanged a meaningful look. "Oh, come on, Alec," Isabelle said. "I thought
she should know. I didn't know she'd come racing up here!"
Clary's stomach lurched. "Of course I came! Is he all right? Why on earth did the Inquisitor
throw him in prison?"
"It's not prison exactly. He's in the Silent City," said Alec, sitting up straight and pulling one of
Isabelle's pillows across his lap. He picked idly at the beaded fringe sewed to its edges.
"In the Silent City? Why?"
Alec hesitated. "There are cells under the Silent City. They keep criminals there sometimes
before deporting them to Idris to stand trial before the Council. People who've done really bad
things. Murderers, renegade vampires, Shadowhunters who break the Accords. That's where Jace
is now."
"Locked up with a bunch of murderers?" Clary was on her feet, outraged. "What's wrong
with you people? Why aren't you more upset?"
Alec and Isabelle exchanged another look. "It's just for a night," Isabelle said. "And there isn't
anyone else down there with him. We asked."
"But why? What did Jace do?"
"He mouthed off to the Inquisitor. That was it, as far as I know," said Alec.
Isabelle perched herself on the edge of the vanity table. "It's unbelievable."
"Then the Inquisitor must be insane," said Clary.
"She's not, actually," said Alec. "If Jace were in your mundane army, do you think he'd be
allowed to mouth off to his superiors? Absolutely not."
"Well, not during a war. But Jace isn't a soldier."
"But we're all soldiers. Jace as much as the rest of us. There's a hierarchy of command and
the Inquisitor is near the top. Jace is near the bottom. He should have treated her with more
"If you agree that he ought to be in jail, why did you ask me to come here? Just to get me to
agree with you? I don't see the point. What do you want me to do?"
"We didn't say he should be in jail," Isabelle snapped. "Just that he shouldn't have talked back
to one of the highest-ranked members of the Clave. Besides," she added in a smaller voice, "I
thought that maybe you could help."
"Help? How?"
"I told you before," Alec said, "half the time it seems like Jace is trying to get himself killed.
He has to learn to look out for himself, and that includes cooperating with the Inquisitor."
"And you think I can help you make him do that?" Clary said, disbelief coloring her voice.
"I'm not sure anyone can make Jace do anything," said Isabelle. "But I think you can remind
him that he has something to live for."
Alec looked down at the pillow in his hand and gave a sudden savage yank to the fringe.
Beads rattled down onto Isabelle's blanket like a shower of localized rain.
Isabelle frowned. "Alec, don't."
Clary wanted to tell Isabelle that they were Jace's family, that she wasn't, that their voices
carried more weight with him than hers ever would. But she kept hearing Jace's voice in her head,
saying, I never felt like I belonged anywhere. But you make me feel like I belong. "Can we go to
the Silent City and see him?"
"Will you tell him to cooperate with the Inquisitor?" Alec demanded.
Clary considered. "I want to hear what he has to say first."
Alec dropped the denuded pillow onto the bed and stood up, frowning. Before he could say
anything, there was a knock at the door. Isabelle unhitched herself from the vanity table and went
to answer it.
It was a small, dark-haired boy, his eyes half-hidden by glasses. He wore jeans and an oversize
sweatshirt and carried a book in one hand. "Max," Isabelle said, with some surprise, "I thought
you were asleep."
"I was in the weapons room," said the boy—who had to be the Lightwoods' youngest son.
"But there were noises coming from the library. I think someone might be trying to contact the
Institute." He peered around Isabelle at Clary. "Who's that?"
"That's Clary," said Alec. "She's Jace's sister."
Max's eyes rounded. "I thought Jace didn't have any brothers or sisters."
"That's what we all thought," said Alec, picking up the sweater he'd left draped over one of
Isabelle's chairs and yanking it on. His hair rayed out around his head like a soft dark halo,
crackling with static electricity. He pushed it back impatiently. "I'd better get to the library."
"We'll both go," Isabelle said, taking her gold whip, which was twisted into a shimmering
rope, out of a drawer and sliding the handle through her belt. "Maybe something's happened."
"Where are your parents?" Clary asked.
"They got called out a few hours ago. A fey was murdered in Central Park. The Inquisitor
went with them," Alec explained.
"You didn't want to go?"
"We weren't invited." Isabelle looped her two dark braids up on top of her head and stuck the
coil of hair through with a small glass dagger. "Look after Max, will you? We'll be right back."
"But—," Clary protested.
"We'll be right back." Isabelle darted out into the corridor, Alec on her heels. The moment the
door shut behind them, Clary sat down on the bed and regarded Max with apprehension. She'd
never spent much time around children—her mother had never let her babysit—and she wasn't
really sure how to talk to them or what might amuse them. It helped a little that this particular little
boy reminded her of Simon at that age, with his skinny arms and legs and glasses that seemed too
big for his face.
Max returned her stare with a considering glance of his own, not shy, but thoughtful and
contained. "How old are you?" he said finally.
Clary was taken aback. "How old do I look?"
"I'm sixteen, but people always think I'm younger than I am because I'm so short."
Max nodded. "Me too," he said. "I'm nine but people always think I'm seven."
"You look nine to me," said Clary. "What's that you're holding? Is it a book?"
Max brought his hand out from behind his back. He was holding a wide, flat paperback, about
the size of one of those small magazines they sold at grocery store counters. This one had a
brightly colored cover with Japanese kanji script on it under the English words. Clary laughed.
"Naruto," she said. "I didn't know you liked manga. Where did you get that?"
"In the airport. I like the pictures but I can't figure out how to read it."
"Here, give it to me." She flipped it open, showing him the pages. "You read it backward,
right to left instead of left to right. And you read each page clockwise. Do you know what that
"Of course," said Max. For a moment Clary was worried she'd annoyed him. He seemed
pleased enough, though, when he took the book back and flipped to the last page. "This one is
number nine," he said. "I think I should get the other eight before I read it."
"That's a good idea. Maybe you can get someone to take you to Midtown Comics or
Forbidden Planet."
"Forbidden Planet?" Max looked bemused, but before Clary could explain, Isabelle burst
through the door, clearly out of breath.
"It was someone trying to contact the Institute," she said, before Clary could ask. "One of the
Silent Brothers. Something's happened in the Bone City."
"What kind of something?"
"I don't know. I've never heard of the Silent Brothers asking for help before." Isabelle was
clearly distressed. She turned to her brother. "Max, go to your room and stay there, okay?"
Max set his jaw. "Are you and Alec going out?"
"To the Silent City?"
"I want to come."
Isabelle shook her head; the hilt of the dagger at the back of her head glittered like a point of
fire. "Absolutely not. You're too young."
"You're not eighteen either!"
Isabelle turned to Clary with a look half of anxiety and half of desperation. "Clary, come here
for a second, please."
Clary got up, wonderingly—and Isabelle grabbed her by the arm and yanked her out of the
room, slamming the door shut behind her. There was a thump as Max threw himself against it.
"Damn it," said Isabelle, holding the knob, "can you grab my stele for me, please? It's in my
Hastily, Clary held out the stele Luke had given her earlier that night. "Use mine."
With a few swift strokes, Isabelle had carved a Locking rune onto the door. Clary could still
hear Max's protests from the other side as Isabelle stepped away from the door, grimacing, and
handed Clary back her stele. "I didn't know you had one of these."
"It was my mother's," said Clary, then she mentally chided herself. Is my mother's. It is my
"Huh." Isabelle thumped on the door with a closed fist. "Max, there's some PowerBars in the
nightstand drawer if you get hungry. We'll be back as soon as we can."
There was another outraged yell from behind the door; with a shrug, Isabelle turned and
hurried back down the hallway, Clary at her side. "What did the message say?" Clary demanded.
"Just that there was trouble?"
"That there was an attack. That's it."
Alec was waiting for them outside the library. He was wearing black leather Shadowhunter
armor over his clothes. Gauntlets protected his arms and Marks circled his throat and wrists.
Seraph blades, each one named for an angel, gleamed at the belt around his waist. "Are you
ready?" he said to his sister. "Is Max taken care of?"
"He's fine." She held out her arms. "Mark me."
As Alec traced the patterns of runes along the backs of Isabelle's hands and the insides of her
wrists, he glanced over at Clary. "You should probably head home," he said. "You don't want to
be here by yourself when the Inquisitor gets back."
"I want to go with you," Clary said, the words spilling out before she could stop them.
Isabelle took one of her hands back from Alec and blew on the Marked skin as if she were
cooling a too-hot cup of coffee. "You sound like Max."
"Max is nine. I'm the same age as you."
"But you haven't got any training," Alec argued. "You'll just be a liability."
"No, I won't. Has either of you ever been inside the Silent City?" Clary demanded. "I have. I
know how to get in. I know how to find my way around."
Alec straightened up, putting his stele away. "I don't think—"
Isabelle cut in. "She has a point, actually. I think she should come if she wants."
Alec looked taken aback. "Last time we faced a demon, she just cowered and screamed."
Seeing Clary's acid glare, he shot her an apologetic glance. "I'm sorry, but it's true."
"I think she needs a chance to learn," Isabelle said. "You know what Jace always says.
Sometimes you don't have to search out danger, sometimes danger finds you."
"You can't lock me up like you did Max," Clary added, seeing Alec's weakening resolution.
"I'm not a child. And I know where the Bone City is. I can find my way there without you."
Alec turned away, shaking his head and muttering something about girls. Isabelle held out a
hand to Clary. "Give me your stele," she said. "It's time you got some Marks."


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