Monday, 21 January 2013

City of Fallen Angels - Chapter 17

Clary had never been so cold.
Even when she had crawled out of Lake Lyn, coughing and sputtering its poisonous
water onto the shore, she hadn’t been this cold. Even when she had thought Jace was
dead, she hadn’t felt this terrible icy paralysis in her heart. Then she had burned with
rage, rage against her father. Now she just felt ice, all the way down to her toes.
She had come back to consciousness in the marble lobby of a strange building, under the
shadow of an unlit chandelier. Jace had been carrying her, one arm under her bent knees,
the other supporting her head. Still dizzy and groggy, she’d buried her head against his
neck for a moment, trying to remember where she was.
“What happened?” she had whispered.
They had reached the elevator. Jace pushed the button, and Clary heard the rattle that
meant the machine was moving down toward them. But where were they?
“You were unconscious,” he said.
“But how—” She remembered then, and fell silent. His hands on her, the sting of her
stele on her skin, the wave of darkness that had come over her. Something wrong with the
rune he had drawn on her, the way it had looked and felt. She stayed motionless in his
arms for a moment, and then said:
“Put me down.”
He set her down on her feet, and they looked at each other. Only a small space separated
them. She could have reached out and touched him, but for the first time since she had
met him, she didn’t want to. She had the terrible feeling that she was looking at a
stranger. He looked like Jace, and sounded like Jace when he spoke, and had felt like Jace
when she was holding him. But his eyes were strange and distant, as was the tiny smile
playing about his mouth.
The elevator doors opened behind him. She remembered standing in the nave of the
Institute, saying “I love you” to a closed elevator door. The gap yawned behind him now,
as black as the mouth of a cave. She felt for the stele in her pocket; it was gone.
“You knocked me out,” she said. “With a rune. You brought me here. Why?”
His beautiful face was entirely, carefully blank. “I had to do it. I didn’t have a choice.”
She turned and ran then, going for the door, but he was faster than she was. He always
had been. He swung in front of her, blocking her path, and held out his hands. “Clary,
don’t run,” he said. “Please. For me.”
She looked at him incredulously. His voice was the same—he sounded just like Jace, but
not like him—like a recording of him, she thought, all the tones and patterns of his voice
there, but the life that animated it gone. How had she not realized it before? She had
thought he sounded remote because of stress and pain, but no. It was that he was gone.
Her stomach turned over, and she bolted for the door again, only to have him catch her
around the waist and swing her back toward him. She pushed at him, her fingers locking
into the fabric of his shirt, ripping it sideways.
She froze, staring. On the skin of his chest, just over his heart, was a rune.
It wasn’t one she had ever seen before. It wasn’t black, like Shadowhunter runes were,
but dark red, the color of blood. And it lacked the delicate grace of the runes from the
Gray Book. It was scrawling, ugly, its lines sharp and cruel rather than curving and
Jace didn’t seem to see it. He stared down at himself as if wondering what she was gazing
at, then looked at her, puzzled. “It’s all right. You didn’t hurt me.”
“That rune—,” she began, but cut herself off, hard. Maybe he didn’t know it was there.
“Let me go, Jace,” she said instead, backing away from him. “You don’t have to do this.”
“You’re wrong about that,” he said, and reached for her again.
This time she didn’t fight. What would happen even if she escaped? She couldn’t just
leave him here. Jace was still there, she thought, trapped somewhere behind those blank
eyes, maybe screaming for her. She had to stay with him. Had to know what was
happening. She let him pick her up and carry her into the elevator. with him. Had to know
what was happening. She let him pick her up and carry her into the elevator.
“The Silent Brothers will notice you left,” she said, as the buttons for floor after floor lit
up while the elevator rose.
“They’ll alert the Clave. They’ll come looking—”
“I need not fear the Brothers. I wasn’t a prisoner; they weren’t expecting me to want to
leave. They won’t notice I’m gone until they wake up tomorrow morning.”
“What if they wake up earlier than that?”
“Oh,” he said, with a cold certainly, “they won’t. It’s much more likely the other
partygoers at the Ironworks will notice you’re missing. But what can they do about it?
They’ll have no idea where you went, and Tracking to this building is blocked.” He
stroked her hair back from her face, and she went still. “You’re just going to have to trust
me. No one’s coming for you.”
He didn’t bring the knife out until they left the elevator, and then he said, “I would never
hurt you. You know that, don’t you?” even as he flicked her hair back with the tip of the
blade and pressed the edge to her throat. The icy air hit her bare shoulders and arms as
soon as they were out on the roof. Jace’s hands were warm where he touched her, and she
could feel the heat of him through her thin dress, but it didn’t warm her, not inside. Inside
she was filled with jagged slivers of ice.
She grew colder still when she saw Simon, looking at her with his huge dark eyes. His
face looked scrubbed blank with shock, like a white piece of paper. He was looking at
her, and Jace behind her, as if he were seeing something fundamentally wrong, a person
with their face turned inside-out, a map of the world with all the land gone and nothing
left but ocean.
She barely looked at the woman beside him, with her dark hair and her thin, cruel face.
Clary’s gaze had gone immediately to the transparent coffin on its pedestal of stone. It
seemed to glow from within, as if lit by a milky inner light. The water that Jonathan was
floating in was probably not water but some other, less natural liquid.
Normal Clary, she thought dispassionately, would have screamed at the sight of her
brother, floating still and dead-looking and totally unmoving in what looked like Snow
White’s glass coffin. But frozen Clary just stared with a remote and distant shock.
Lips as red as blood, skin as white as snow, hair as black as ebony. Well, some of that
was true. When she had met Sebastian, his hair had been black, but it was white-silver
now, floating around his head like albino seaweed.
The same color as his father’s hair. Their father’s hair. His skin was so pale it looked as if
it could be made up of luminous crystals. But his lips were colorless too, as were the lids
of his eyes.
“Thank you, Jace,” the womanthat Jace had called LadyLilithsaid. “Nicelydone, and
veryprompt. Ithought Iwas going to have difficulties with you at first, but it appears I
worried for nothing.”
Clary stared. Though the woman did not look familiar, her voice was familiar. She had
heard that voice before. But where? She tried to pull away from Jace, but his grip on her
only tightened. The edge of the knife kissed her throat. An accident, she told herself.
Jace—even this Jace—would never hurt her.
“You,” she said to Lilith between her teeth. “What have you done to Jace?”
“Valentine’s daughter speaks.” The dark-haired woman smiled. “Simon? Would you like
to explain?”
Simon looked like he was going to throw up. “I have no idea.” He sounded as if he were
choking. “Believe me, you two were the last thing I expected to see.”
“The Silent Brothers said that a demon was responsible for what’s been happening with
Jace,” Clary said, and saw Simon look more baffled than ever. The woman, though, just
watched her with eyes like flat obsidian circles.
“That demon was you, wasn’t it? But why Jace? What do you want from us?”
“‘Us’?” Lilith pealed with laughter. “As if you mattered in this, my girl. Why you?
Because you are a means to an end. Because I needed both these boys, and both of them
love you. Because Jace Herondale is the one person you trust more than anyone else in
the world. And you are someone the Daylighter loves enough to give up his own life for.
Perhaps you cannot be harmed,” she said, turning to Simon. “But she can be. Are you so
stubborn that you will sit back and watch Jace cut her throat rather than give up your
blood?” will sit back and watch Jace cut her throat rather than give up your blood?”
Simon, looking like death itself, shook his head slowly, but before he could speak, Clary
said, “Simon, no! Don’t do it, whatever it is. Jace wouldn’t hurt me.”
The woman’s fathomless eyes turned to Jace. She smiled. “Cut her,” she said. “Just a
Clary felt Jace’s shoulders tense, the way they had in the park when he’d been showing
her how to fight. She felt something at her throat, like a stinging kiss, cold and hot at
once, and felt a warm trickle of liquid spill down onto her collarbone. Simon’s eyes
He had cut her. He had actually done it. She thought of Jace crouched on the floor of the
bedroom at the Institute, hispainclearineverylineofhisbody.
Idreamthatyoucomeintomyroom.AndthenIhurtyou.Icutyouor strangle or stab you, and
you die, looking up at me with those green eyes of yours while your life bleeds away
between my hands.
She had not believed him. Not really. He was Jace. He would never hurt her. She looked
down and saw the blood staining the neckline of her dress. It looked like red paint.
“You see now,” said the woman. “He does what I tell him. Don’t blame him for it. He is
completely within my power.
For weeks I have crept through his head, seeing his dreams, learning his fears and wants,
his guilts and desires.
In a dream he accepted my Mark, and that Mark has been burning through him ever
since—through his skin, down into his soul. Now his soul is in my hands, to shape or
direct as I see fit. He will do whatever I say.”
Clary remembered what the Silent Brothers had said. When a Shadowhunter is born, a
ritual is performed, a number of protective spells placed upon the child by both the Silent
Brothers and the Iron Sisters. When Jace died and then was raised, he was born a second
time, with those protections and rituals stripped away. It would have left him as open as
an unlocked door—open to any kind of demonic influence or malevolence.
I did this, Clary thought. I brought him back, and I wanted it kept secret. If we had only
told someone what had happened, maybe the ritual could have been done in time to keep
Lilith out of his head. She felt sick with selfloathing. Behind her Jace was silent, as still
as a statue, his arms around her and the knife still at her throat. She could feel it against
her skin when she took a breath to speak, keeping her voice even with an effort. “I
understand that you control Jace,” she said. “I don’t understand why. Surely there are
other, easier ways to threaten me.”
Lilith sighed as if the whole business had grown tedious. “I need you,” she said, with
exaggerated patience, “to get Simon to do what I want, which is give me his blood. And I
need Jace not just because I needed a way to get you here, but as a counterweight. All
things in magic must balance, Clarissa.” She pointed at the rough black circle drawn on
the tiles, and then at Jace. “He was the first. The first to be brought back, the first soul
restored to this world in the name of Light. Therefore he must be present for me to
successfully restore the second, in the name of the Dark. Do you understand now, silly
girl? We are all needed here. Simon to die. Jace to live. Jonathan to return.
And you, Valentine’s daughter, to be the catalyst for it all.”
The demon woman’s voice had dropped to a low chant. With a shock of surprise Clary
realized that she now knew where she had heard it before. She saw her father, standing
inside a pentagram, a black-haired woman with tentacles for eyes kneeling at his feet.
The woman said, The child born with this blood in him will exceed in power the Greater
Demons of the abysses between the worlds. But it will burn out his humanity, as poison
burns the life from the blood.
“I know,” Clary said through stiff lips. “I know who you are. I saw you cut your wrist
and drip blood into a cup for my father. The angel Ithuriel showed it to me in a vision.”
Simon’s eyes darted back and forth between Clary and the woman, whose dark eyes held
a hint of surprise. Clary guessed she didn’t surprise easily. “I saw my father summon you.
I know what he called you. My Lady of Edom.
You’re a Greater Demon. You gave your blood to make my brother what he is. You
turned him into a—a horrible thing. If it weren’t for you—”
“Yes. All that is true. I gave my blood to Valentine Morgenstern, and he put it in his baby
boy, and this is the result.”
The woman placed her hand gently, almost as a caress, against the glass surface of
Sebastian’s coffin. There was the oddest smile on her face. “You might almost say that,
in a way, I am Jonathan’s mother.”
“I told you that address didn’t mean anything,” Alec said.
Isabelle ignored him. The moment they had stepped through the doors of the building, the
ruby pendant around her neck had pulsed, faintly, like the beat of a distant heart. That
meant demonic presence. Under other circumstances she would have expected her
brother to sense the weirdness of the place just like she did, but he was clearly too sunk in
gloom about Magnus to concentrate.
“Get your witchlight,” she said to him. “I left mine at home.”
He shot her an irritated look. It was dark in the lobby, dark enough that a normal human
wouldn’t have been able to see. Maia and Jordan both had the excellent night vision of
werewolves. They were standing at opposite ends of the room, Jordan examining the big
marble lobby desk, and Maia leaning against the far wall, apparently examining her rings.
“You’re supposed to bring it with you everywhere,” Alec replied.
“Oh? Did you bring your Sensor?” she snapped. “I didn’t think so. At least I have this.”
She tapped the pendant. “I can tell you that there’s something here. Something demonic.”
Jordan’s head snapped around. “There are demons here?”
“I don’t know—maybe only one. It pulsed and faded,” Isabelle admitted. “But it’s too big
a coincidence for this just to have been the wrong address. We have to check it out.”
A dim light rose up all around her. She looked over and saw Alec holding up his
witchlight, its blaze contained by his fingers. It threw strange shadows across his face,
making him look older than he was, his eyes a darker blue.
“So let’s get going,” he said. “We’ll take it one floor at a time.”
They moved toward the elevator, Alec first, then Isabelle, Jordan and Maia dropping into
line behind them.
Isabelle’s boots had Soundless runes carved into the soles, but Maia’s heels clicked on
the marble floor as she walked. Frowning, she paused to discard them, and went barefoot
the rest of the way. As Maia stepped into the elevator, Isabelle noticed that she wore a
gold ring around her left big toe, set with a turquoise stone.
Jordan, glancing down at her feet, said in a surprised tone, “I remember that ring. I
bought that for you at—”
“Shut up,” Maia said, hitting the door close button. The doors slid shut as Jordan lapsed
into silence.
They paused at every floor. Most were still under construction—there were no lights, and
wires hung down from the ceilings like vines. Windows had plywood nailed over them.
Drop cloths blew in the faint wind like ghosts. Isabelle kept a firm hand on her pendant,
but nothing happened until they reached the tenth floor. As the doors opened, she felt a
flutter against the inside of her cupped palm, as if she had been holding a tiny bird there
and it had beaten its wings.
She spoke in a whisper. “There’s something here.”
Alec just nodded; Jordan opened his mouth to say something, but Maia elbowed him,
hard. Isabelle slipped past her brother, into the hall outside the elevators. The ruby was
pulsing and vibrating against her hand now like a distressed insect.
Behind her, Alec whispered, “Sandalphon.” Light blazed up around Isabelle, illuminating
the hall. Unlike some of the other floors they had seen, this one seemed at least partly
finished. Bare granite walls rose around her, and the floor was smooth black tile. A
corridor led in two directions. One ended in a heap of construction equipment and tangled
wires. The other ended in an archway. Beyond the archway, black space beckoned.
Isabelle turned to look back at her companions. Alec had put away his witchlight stone
and was holding a blazing seraph blade, lighting the interior of the elevator like a lantern.
Jordan had produced a large, brutal-looking knife and was gripping it in his right hand.
Maia seemed to be in the process of putting her hair up; when she lowered her hands, she
was holding a long, razor-tipped pin. Her nails had grown, too, and her eyes held a feral,
greenish gleam.
“Follow me,” Isabelle said. “Quietly.”
Tap, tap went the ruby against Isabelle’s throat as she went down the hall, like the
prodding of an insistent finger.
She didn’t hear the rest of them behind her, but she knew they were there from the long
shadows cast against the dark granite walls. Her throat was tight, her nerves singing, the
way they always did before she walked into battle.
This was the part she liked least, the anticipation before the release of violence. During a
fight nothing mattered but the fight itself; now she had to struggle to keep her mind on
the task at hand.
The archway loomed above them. It was carved marble, oddly old-fashioned for such a
modern building, its sides decorated with scrollwork. Isabelle glanced up briefly as she
passed through, and almost started. The face of a grinning gargoyle was carved into the
stone, leering down at her. She made a face at it and turned to look at the room she had
It was vast, high-ceilinged, clearly meant to someday be a full loft apartment. The walls
were floor-to-ceiling windows, giving out onto a view of the East River with Queens in
the distance, the Coca-Cola sign flashing bloodred and navy blue down onto the black
water. The lights of surrounding buildings hovered glittering in the night air like tinsel on
a Christmas tree. The room itself was dark, and full of odd, humped shadows, spaced at
regular intervals, low to the ground. Isabelle squinted, puzzled. They weren’t animate;
they appeared to be chunks of square, blocky furniture, but what—?
“Alec,” she said softly. Her pendant was writhing as if alive, its ruby heart painfully hot
against her skin.
In a moment her brother was beside her. He raised his blade, and the room was full of
light. Isabelle’s hand flew to her mouth. “Oh, dear God,” she whispered. “Oh, by the
Angel, no.”
“You’re not his mother.” Simon’s voice cracked as he said it; Lilith didn’t even turn to
look at him. She still had her hands on the glass coffin. Sebastian floated inside it, silent
and unaware. His feet were bare, Simon noticed. “He has a mother. Clary’s mother.
Clary’s his sister. Sebastian—Jonathan—won’t be too pleased if you hurt her.”
Lilith looked up at that, and laughed. “A brave attempt, Daylighter,” she said. “But I
know better. I saw my son grow up, you know. Often I visited him in the form of an owl.
I saw how the woman who had given birth to him hated him.
He has no love lost for her, nor should he, nor does he care for his sister. He is more like
me than he is like Jocelyn Morgenstern.” Her dark eyes moved from Simon to Jace and
Clary. They had not moved, not really. Clary still stood in the circle of Jace’s arms, with
the knife near her throat. He held it easily, carelessly, as if he were barely paying
attention. But Simon knew how quickly Jace’s seeming uninterest could explode into
violent action.
“Jace,” said Lilith. “Step into the circle. Bring the girl with you.”
Obediently Jace moved forward, pushing Clary ahead of him. As they crossed the barrier
of the black-painted line, the runes inside the line flashed a sudden, brilliant red—and
something else lit as well. A rune on the left side of Jace’s chest, just above his heart,
glowed suddenly, with such brightness that Simon closed his eyes. Even with his eyes
closed, he could still see the rune, a vicious swirl of angry lines, printed against the inside
of his eyelids.
“Open your eyes, Daylighter,” Lilith snapped. “The time has come. Will you give me
your blood, or will you refuse?
You know the price if you do.”
Simon looked down at Sebastian in his coffin—and did a double take. A rune that was
the twin of the one that had just flashed on Jace’s chest was visible on his bare chest as
well, just beginning to fade as Simon stared down at him. In a moment it was gone, and
Sebastian was still and white again. Unmoving. Unbreathing.
“I can’t bring him back for you,” Simon said. “He’s dead. I’d give you my blood, but he
can’t swallow it.”
Her breath hissed through her teeth in exasperation, and for a moment her eyes glowed
with a harsh acidic light.
“First you must bite him,” she said. “You are a Daylighter. Angel blood runs through
your body, through your blood and tears, through the fluid in your fangs. Your Daylighter
blood will revive him enough that he can swallow and drink. Bite him and give him your
blood, and bring him back to me.”
Simon stared at her wildly. “But what you’re saying—you’re saying I have the power to
bring back the dead?”
“Since you’ve been a Daylighter you’ve had that power,” she said. “But not the right to
use it.”
“The right?”
She smiled, tracing the tip of one long red-painted nail across the top of Sebastian’s
coffin. “History is written by the winners, they say,” she said. “There might not be so
much of a difference between the side of Light and the side ofDark as yousuppose.After
all, without the Dark, there is nothing for the Light to burnaway.”
Simon looked at her blankly.
“Balance,” she clarified. “There are laws older than any you can imagine. And one of
them is that you cannot bring back what is dead. When the soul has left the body, it
belongs to death. And it cannot be taken back without a price to pay.”
“And you’re willing to pay it? For him?” Simon gestured toward Sebastian.
“He is the price.” She threw her head back and laughed. It sounded almost like human
laughter. “If the Light brings back a soul, then the Dark has the right to bring one back as
well. This is my right. Or perhaps you should ask your little friend Clary what I’m talking
Simon looked at Clary. She looked as if she might pass out. “Raziel,” she said faintly.
“When Jace died—”
“Jace died?” Simon’s voice went up an octave. Jace, despite being the subject under
discussion, remained serene and expressionless, his knife hand steady.
“Valentine stabbed him,” Clary said in an almost-whisper. “And then the Angel killed
Valentine, and he said I could have anything I wanted. And I said I wanted Jace back, I
wanted him back, and he brought him back—for me.” Her eyes were huge in her small
white face. “He was dead for only a few minutes . . . hardly any time at all . . .”
“It was enough,” breathed Lilith. “I was hovering near my son during his battle with Jace;
I saw him fall and die. I followed Jace to the lake, I watched as Valentine slew him, and
then as the Angel raised him again. I knew that was my chance. I raced back to the river
and took my son’s body from it. . . . I kept it preserved for just this moment.” She looked
fondly down at the coffin. “Everything in balance. An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth.
A life for a life. Jace is the counterweight. If Jace lives, then so shall Jonathan.”
Simon couldn’t tear his eyes away from Clary. “What she’s saying—about the Angel—
it’s true?” he said. “And you never told anyone?”
To his surprise it was Jace who answered. Brushing his cheek against Clary’s hair, he
said, “It was our secret.”
Clary’s green eyes flashed, but she didn’t move.
“So you see, Daylighter,” said Lilith, “I am only taking what is mine by right. The Law
says that the one who was first brought back must be here in the circle when the second is
returned.” She indicated Jace with a contemptuous flick of her finger. “He is here. You
are here. All is in readiness.”
“Then you don’t need Clary,” said Simon. “Leave her out of it. Let her go.”
“Of course I need her. I need her to motivate you. I cannot hurt you, Mark-bearer, or
threaten you, or kill you. But I can cut out your heart when I cut out her life. And I will.”
She looked toward Clary, and Simon’s gaze followed hers.
Clary. She was so pale that she looked almost blue, though perhaps that was the cold. Her
green eyes were vast in her pale face. A trickle of drying blood spilled from her
collarbone to the neckline of her dress, now spotted with red. Her hands hung at her
sides, loose, but they were shaking.
Simon saw her as she was, but also as she had been when she was seven years old, skinny
arms and freckles and those blue plastic barrettes she’d worn in her hair until she was
eleven. He thought of the first time he’d noticed she had a real girl’s shape under the
baggy T-shirt and jeans she always wore, and how he hadn’t been sure if he should look
or look away. He thought of her laugh and her quick pencil moving across a page, leaving
intricately designed images behind: spired castles, running horses, brightly colored
characters she’d made up in her head. You can walk to school by yourself, her mother
had said, but only if Simon goes with you. He thought of her hand in his when they
crossed the street, and his own sense of the awesome task that he had undertaken: the
responsibility for her safety.
He had been in love with her once, and maybe some part of him always would be,
because she had been his first.
But that wasn’t what mattered now. She was Clary; she was part of him; she always had
been and would be forever. As he stared at her, she shook her head, very slightly. He
knew what she was saying. Don’t do it. Don’t give her what she wants. Let whatever
happens to me happen.
He stepped into the circle; as his feet passed over the painted line, he felt a shiver, like an
electric shock, go through him. “All right,” he said. “I’ll do it.”
“No!” Clary cried, but Simon didn’t look at her. He was watching Lilith, who smiled a
cool, gloating smile as she raised her left hand and passed it across the surface of the
The lid of it vanished, peeling back in a way that reminded Simon bizarrely of peeling
back the lid of a tin of sardines. As the top layer of glass pulled away, it melted and ran,
dripping down the sides of the granite pedestal, crystallizing into tiny shards of glass as
the drops struck the ground.
The coffin was open now, like a fish tank; Sebastian’s body drifted inside, and Simon
thought he could once again see the flash of the rune on his chest as Lilith reached into
the tank. As Simon watched, she took Sebastian’s dangling arms and crossed them over
his chest with an oddly tender gesture, tucking the bandaged one under the one that was
whole. She brushed a lock of his wet hair away from his still, white forehead, and stepped
back, shaking milky water from her hands.
“To your work, Daylighter,” she said.
Simon moved toward the coffin. Sebastian’s face was slack, his eyelids still. No pulse
beat in his throat. Simon remembered how much he had wanted to drink Maureen’s
blood. How he had craved the feeling of his teeth sinking into her skin and freeing the
salty blood beneath. But this—this was feeding off a corpse. The very thought made his
stomach turn.
Though he wasn’t looking at her, he was aware of Clary watching him. He could feel her
breath as he bent over Sebastian. He could sense Jace, too, watching him out of blank
eyes. Reaching into the coffin, he closed his hands around Sebastian’s cold, slippery
shoulders. Biting back the urge to be sick, he bent and sank his teeth into Sebastian’s
throat. Black demon blood poured into his mouth, as bitter as poison.
Isabelle moved silently among the stone pedestals. Alec was with her, Sandalphon in his
hand, sending light winging through the room. Maia was in one corner of the room, bent
over and retching, her hand braced against the wall; Jordan hovered over her, looking as
if he wanted to reach out and stroke her back, but was afraid of being rebuffed.
Isabelle didn’t blame Maia for throwing up. If she hadn’t had years of training, she would
have thrown up herself.
She had never seen anything like what she was looking at now. There were dozens,
maybe fifty, of the stone pedestals in the room. Atop each one was a low crib-like basket.
Inside each basket was a baby. And every one of the babies was dead.
She had held out hope at first, as she walked up and down the rows, that she might find
one alive. But these children had been dead for some time. Their skin was gray, their
small faces bruised and discolored. They were wrapped in thin blankets, and though it
was cold in the room, Isabelle didn’t think it was cold enough for them to have frozen to
death. She wasn’t sure how they had died; she couldn’t bear to investigate too closely.
This was clearly a matter for the Clave. wrapped in thin blankets, and though it was cold
in the room, Isabelle didn’t think it was cold enough for them to have frozen to death.
She wasn’t sure how they had died; she couldn’t bear to investigate too closely. This was
clearly a matter for the Clave.
Alec, behind her, had tears running down his face; he was cursing under his breath by the
time they reached the last of the pedestals. Maia had straightened up and was leaning
against the window; Jordan had given her some kind of cloth, maybe a handkerchief, to
hold to her face. The cold white lights of the city burned behind her, cutting through the
dark glass like diamond drills.
“Iz,” Alec said. “Who could have done something like this? Why would someone—even
a demon—”
He broke off. Isabelle knew what he was thinking about. Max, when he had been born.
She had been seven, Alec nine. They had bent over their little brother in the cradle,
amused and enchanted by this fascinating new creature.
They’d played with his little fingers, laughed at the weird faces he made when they
tickled him.
Her heart twisted. Max. As she had moved down the lines of little cribs, now turned into
little coffins, a sense of overwhelming dread had begun to press down on her. She
couldn’t ignore the fact that the pendant around her neck was glowing with a harsh,
steady glow. The sort of glow she might have expected if she were facing down a Greater
She thought of what Clary had seen in the morgue in Beth Israel. He looked just like a
normal baby. Except for his hands. They were twisted into claws. . . .
With great care she reached into one of the cribs. Careful not to touch the baby, she
twitched aside the thin blanket that wrapped its body.
She felt the breath puff out of her in a gasp. Ordinary chubby baby arms, round baby
wrists. The hands looked soft and new. But the fingers—the fingers were twisted into
claws, as black as burned bone, tipped with sharp little talons. She took an involuntary
step back.
“What?” Maia moved toward them. She still looked sickened, but her voice was steady.
Jordan followed her, hands in his pockets. “What did you find?” she asked.
“By the Angel.” Alec, beside Isabelle, was looking down into the crib. “Is this—like the
baby Clary was telling you about? The one at Beth Israel?”
Slowly Isabelle nodded. “I guess it wasn’t just the one baby,” she said. “Someone’s been
trying to make a lot more of them. More . . . Sebastians.”
“Why would anyone want more of him?” Alec’s voice was full of naked hatred.
“He was fast and strong,” Isabelle said. It almost hurt physically to say anything
complimentary about the boy who had killed her brother and tried to kill her. “I guess
they’re trying to breed a race of super-warriors.”
“It didn’t work.” Maia’s eyes were dark with sadness.
A noise so soft it was almost inaudible teased at the edge of Isabelle’s hearing. Her head
jerked up, her hand going to her belt, where her whip was coiled. Something in the thick
shadows at the edge of the room, near the door, moved, just the faintest flicker, but
Isabelle had already broken away from the others and was running for the door. She burst
out into the hallway near the elevators. There was something there—a shadow that had
broken free of the greater darkness and was moving, edging along the wall. Isabelle
picked up speed and threw herself forward, knocking the shadow to the floor.
It wasn’t a ghost.As theywent downtogether ina heap,Isabelle surprised a veryhumansounding
grunt of surprise out of the shadowy figure. They hit the ground together and
rolled. The figure was definitely human—slight and shorter than Isabelle, wearing a gray
warm-up suit and sneakers. Sharp elbows came up, jabbing into Isabelle’s collarbone. A
knee dug into her solar plexus. She gasped and rolled aside, feeling for her whip. By the
time she got it free, the figure was on its feet. Isabelle rolled onto her stomach, flicking
the whip forward; the end of itcoiled around the stranger’s ankle and pulled tight.Isabelle
jerked the whip back,yanking the figure offits feet.
She scrambled to her feet, reaching with her free hand for her stele, which was tucked
down the front of her dress.
With a quick slash she finished the nyx Mark on her left arm. Her vision adjusted
quickly, the whole room seeming to fill with light as the night vision rune took effect.
She could see her attacker more clearly now—a thin figure in a gray warm-up suit and
gray sneakers, scrambling backward until its back hit the wall. The hood of the suit had
fallen back, exposing the face. The head was shaved cleanly bald, but the face was
definitely female, with sharp cheekbones and big dark eyes.
“Stop it,” Isabelle said, and pulled hard on the whip. The woman cried out in pain. “Stop
trying to crawl away.”
The woman bared her teeth. “Worm,” she said. “Unbeliever. I will tell you nothing.”
Isabelle jammed her stele back into her dress. “If I pull hard enough on this whip, it’ll cut
through your leg.” She gave the whip another flick, tightening it, and moved forward,
until she was standing in front of the woman, looking down at her. “Those babies,” she
said. “What happened to them?”
The woman gave a bubbling laugh. “They were not strong enough. Weak stock, too
“Too weak for what?” When the woman didn’t answer, Isabelle snapped, “You can tell
me or lose your leg. Your choice. Don’t think I won’t let you bleed to death here on the
floor. Child-murderers don’t deserve mercy.”
The woman hissed, like a snake. “If you harm me, She will smite you down.”
“Who—” Isabelle broke off, remembering what Alec had said. Talto is another name for
Lilith. You might say she’s the demon goddess of dead children. “Lilith,” she said. “You
worship Lilith. You did all this . . . for her?”
“Isabelle.” It was Alec, carrying the light of Sandalphon before him. “What’s going on?
Maia and Jordan are searching, looking for any more . . . children, but it looks like they
were all in the big room. What’s going on here?”
“This . . . person,” Isabelle said with disgust, “is a cult member of the Church of Talto.
Apparently they worship Lilith. And they’ve murdered all these babies for her.”
“Not murder!” The woman struggled upright. “Not murder. Sacrifice. They were tested
and found weak. Not our fault.”
“Let me guess,” Isabelle said. “You tried injecting the pregnant women with demon
blood. But demon blood is toxic stuff. The babies couldn’t survive. They were born
deformed, and then they died.”
The womanwhimpered. It was a veryslight sound, butIsabelle sawAlec’s eyes narrow. He
had always beenthe one of them that was best at reading people.
“One of those babies,” he said. “It was yours. How could you inject your own child with
demon blood?”
The woman’s mouth trembled. “I didn’t. We were the ones who took the blood
injections. The mothers. Made us stronger, faster. Our husbands, too. But we got sick.
Sicker and sicker. Our hair fell out. Our nails . . .” She raised her hands, showing the
blackened nails, the torn, bloody nail beds where some had fallen away. Her arms were
dotted with blackish bruises. “We’re all dying,” she said. There was a faint sound of
satisfaction in her voice. “We will be dead in days.”
“She made you take poison,” Alec said, “and yet you worship her?”
“Youdon’tunderstand.” The womansounded hoarse,dreamy.“Ihad nothing before She
found me. None of us did.
I was on the streets. Sleeping on subway gratings so I wouldn’t freeze. Lilith gave me a
place to live, a family to take care of me. Just to be in Her presence is to be safe. I never
felt safe before.”
“You’ve seen Lilith,” Isabelle said, struggling to keep the disbelief from her voice. She
was familiar with demon cults; she had done a report on them once, for Hodge. He had
given her high marks on it. Most cults worshipped demons they had imagined or
invented. Some managed to raise weak minor demons, who either killed them all when
set free, or contented themselves with being served by the cult members, all their needs
attended to, and little asked of them in return. She had never heard of a cult who
worshipped a Greater Demon in which the members had ever actually seen that demon in
the flesh. Much less a Greater Demon as powerful as Lilith, the mother of warlocks.
“You’ve been in her presence?” little asked of them in return. She had never heard of a
cult who worshipped a Greater Demon in which the members had ever actually seen that
demon in the flesh. Much less a Greater Demon as powerful as Lilith, the mother of
warlocks. “You’ve been in her presence?”
The woman’s eyes fluttered half-shut. “Yes. With Her blood in me I can feel when She is
near. As She is now.”
Isabelle couldn’t help it; her free hand flew to her pendant. It had been pulsing on and off
since they’d entered the building; she had assumed it was because of the demon blood in
the dead children, but the presence nearby of a Greater Demon would make even more
sense. “She’s here? Where is she?”
The woman seemed to be drifting off into sleep. “Upstairs,” she said vaguely. “With the
vampire boy. The one who walks by day. She sent us to fetch him for Her, but he was
protected. We could not lay hands on him. Those who went to find him died. Then, when
Brother Adam returned and told us the boy was guarded by holy fire, Lady Lilith was
angry. She slew him where he stood. He was lucky, to die by Her hand, so lucky.” Her
breath rattled. “And She is clever, Lady Lilith. She found another way to bring the boy. . .
The whip dropped from Isabelle’s suddenly limp hand. “Simon? She brought Simon
here? Why?”
“‘None that go unto Her,’” the woman breathed, “‘return again . . .’”
Isabelle dropped to her knees, seizing up the whip. “Stop it,” she said in a voice that
shook. “Stop yammering and tell me where he is. Where did she take him? Where is
Simon? Tell me, or I’ll—”
“Isabelle.” Alec spoke heavily. “Iz, there’s no point. She’s dead.”
Isabelle stared at the woman in disbelief. She had died, it seemed, between one breath
and the next, her eyes wide open, her face set in slack lines. It was possible to see now
that beneath the starvation and the baldness and the bruising, she had probably been quite
young, not more than twenty. “God damn it.”
“I don’t get it,” Alec said. “What does a Greater Demon want with Simon? He’s a
vampire. Granted, a powerful vampire, but—”
“The Mark of Cain,” Isabelle said distractedly. “This must have something to do with the
Mark. It’s got to.” She moved toward the elevator and jabbed at the callbutton.“If
Lilithwas reallyAdam’s first wife, and Cainwas Adam’s son, then the Mark of Cain is
nearly as old as she is.”
“Where are you going?”
“She said they were upstairs,” Isabelle said. “I’m going to search every floor until I find
“She can’t hurt him, Izzy,” said Alec in the reasonable voice Isabelle detested. “I know
you’re worried, but he’s got the Mark of Cain; he’s untouchable. Even a Greater Demon
can’t harm him. No one can.”
Isabelle scowled at her brother. “So what do you think she wants him for, then? So she’ll
have someone to pick up her dry cleaning during the day? Really, Alec—”
There was a ping, and the arrow above the farthest elevator lit up. Isabelle started forward
as the doors began to open. Light flooded out . . . and after the light, a wave of men and
women—bald, emaciated, and dressed in gray tracksuits and sneakers—poured out. They
were brandishing crude weapons culled from the debris of construction: jagged shards of
glass, torn-off chunks of rebar, concrete blocks. None of them spoke. In a silence as total
as it was eerie, they surged from the elevator as one, and advanced on Alec and Isabelle.


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