Tuesday, 19 February 2013

City of Lost Souls - Chapter 13

As the serpent’s head drove down toward Clary, a shining blur slashed across it, almost
blinding her. A seraph blade, its shimmering knife edge slicing the demon’s head cleanly
off. The head crumpled, spraying venom and ichor; Clary rolled to one side, but some of
the toxic substance splattered onto her torso. The demon vanished before its two halves
could strike the floor. Clary bit down on her cry of pain and moved to get to her feet. A
hand was suddenly thrust into her field of vision—an offer to pull her to her feet. Jace,
she thought, but as she looked up, she realized she was staring at her brother.
“Come on,” said Sebastian, his hand still out. “There are more of them.”
She grabbed his hand and let him lift her to her feet. He was splattered with demon
blood too—blackish-green stuff that burned where it touched, leaving scorched patches
on his clothing. As she stared at him, one of the snake-headed things—Elapid demons,
she realized belatedly, remembering an illustration in a book—reared up behind him, its
neck flattening out like a cobra’s. Without thinking, Clary grabbed his shoulder and
shoved him out of the way, hard; he staggered back as the demon struck, and Clary rose
to meet it with the dagger she had yanked from her belt. She turned her body aside as
she drove the dagger home, avoiding the creature’s fangs; its hiss turned to a gurgle as
the blade sank in and she dragged it down, gutting the creature open the way someone
might gut a fish. Burning demon blood exploded over her hand in a hot torrent. She
screamed but kept her grip on the dagger as the Elapid winked out of existence.
She whirled around. Sebastian was fighting another of the Elapids by the door of the
shop; Jace was fending off two next to a display of antique ceramics. Shards of pottery
littered the floor. Clary swung her arm back and threw the dagger, as Jace had taught her
to. It soared through the air and struck one of the creatures in the side, sending it
jittering and squeaking away from Jace. Jace whirled around and, seeing her, winked
before reaching up to scissor off the head of the remaining Elapid demon. Its body
collapsed as it vanished and Jace, splattered in black blood, grinned.
A surge of something went through Clary—a sense of buzzing elation. Both Jace and
Isabelle had spoken to her of the high of battle, but she’d never really experienced it
before. Now she did. She felt all-powerful, her veins humming, strength uncoiling from the
base of her spine. Everything seemed to have slowed down around her. She watched as
the injured Elapid demon spun and turned on her, racing toward her on its insectile feet,
lips already curling back from its fangs. She stepped back, yanked the antique flag from
its mounting place on the wall, and slammed the end of it into the Elapid’s open, gaping
mouth. The pole punched out through the back of the creature’s skull, and the Elapid
disappeared, taking the flag with it.
Clary laughed out loud. Sebastian, who had just finished off another demon, swung
around at the noise, and his eyes widened. “Clary! Stop him!” he shouted, and she spun
around to see Mirek, his hands fumbling at a door set into the back of the shop.
She broke into a run, yanking the seraph blade from her belt as she went. “Nakir!” she
cried, vaulting up onto the counter, and she flung herself from the top of it as her weapon
exploded into brightness. She landed on the Vetis demon, knocking him to the ground.
One of his eel-like arms snapped at her, and she sliced it off with a sawing motion of her
blade. More black blood sprayed. The demon looked at her with red, frightened eyes.
“Stop,” he wheezed. “I could give you whatever you want—”
“ I have everything I want,” she whispered, and drove her seraph blade down. It
plunged into the demon’s chest, and Mirek disappeared with a hollow cry. Clary thumped
to her knees on the carpet.
A moment later two heads appeared over the side of the counter, staring down at her—
one golden-blond and one silver-blond. Jace and Sebastian. Jace was wide-eyed;
Sebastian looked pale. “Name of the Angel, Clary,” he breathed. “The adamas—”
“Oh, that stuff you wanted? It’s right here.” It had rolled partly under the counter. Clary
held it up now, a luminous chunk of silver, smeared where her bloody hands had touched
Sebastian swore with relief and grabbed the adamas out of her hands as Jace vaulted
over the counter in a single movement and landed beside Clary. He knelt down and
pulled her close, running his hands over her, his eyes dark with concern. She caught at his
“I’m all right,” she said. Her heart was pounding, her blood still singing in her veins. He
opened his mouth to say something, but she leaned forward and put her hands on either
side of his face, her nails digging in. “I feel good.” She looked at him, rumpled and sweaty
and bloody as he was, and wanted to kiss him. She wanted—
“All right, you two,” said Sebastian. Clary pulled away from Jace and glanced up at her
brother. He was grinning down at them, lazily spinning the adamas in one hand.
“Tomorrow we use this,” he said, nodding toward it. “But tonight—once we’re cleaned up
a little—we celebrate.”
Simon padded barefoot out into the living room, Isabelle behind him, to find a surprising
tableau. The circle and the pentagram in the center of the floor were shining with a bright
silver light, like mercury. Smoke rose from the center of it, a tall black-red column, tipped
with white. The whole room smelled of burning. Magnus and Alec stood outside the circle,
and with them Jordan and Maia, who—given the coats and hats they were wearing—
looked as if they had just arrived.
“What’s going on?” Isabelle asked, stretching her long limbs with a yawn. “Why is
everyone watching the Pentagram Channel?”
“Just hang on a second,” Alec said grimly. “You’ll see.”
Isabelle shrugged and added her gaze to the others’. As everyone watched, the white
smoke began to swirl, fast and then faster, a mini-tornado that tore across the center of
the pentagram, leaving words behind it spelled out in scorch marks:
“Huh,” Simon said. “Has it been doing that all morning?”
Magnus threw his arms up. He was wearing leather pants and a shirt with a zigzag
metallic lightning bolt on it. “All night, too.”
“Just asking the same question over and over?”
“No, it says different things. Sometimes it swears. Azazel appears to be having some
“Can it hear us?” Jordan cocked his head to the side. “Hey, there, demon guy.”
The fiery letters rearranged themselves. HELLO, WEREWOLF.
Jordan took a step back and looked at Magnus. “Is this… normal?”
Magnus seemed deeply unhappy. “It is most decidedly not normal. I have never called
up a demon as powerful as Azazel, but even so—I’ve been through the literature, and I
can’t find an example of this happening before. It’s getting out of control.”
“Azazel must be sent back,” Alec said. “Like, permanently sent back.” He shook his
head. “Maybe Jocelyn was right. No good can come from summoning demons.”
“I’m pretty sure I came from someone summoning a demon,” Magnus noted. “Alec, I’ve
done this hundreds of times. I don’t know why this time would be different.”
“Azazel can’t get out, can he?” said Isabelle. “Of the pentagram, I mean.”
“No,” said Magnus, “but he shouldn’t be able to be doing any of the other things he’s
doing either.”
Jordan leaned forward, his hands on his blue-jeaned knees. “What’s it like being in Hell,
dude?” he asked. “Hot or cold? I’ve heard both.”
There was no reply.
“Good job, Jordan,” said Maia. “I think you annoyed him.”
Jordan poked at the edge of the pentagram. “Can it tell the future? So, pentagram, is
our band going to make it big?”
“It’s a demon from Hell, not a Magic Eight Ball, Jordan,” said Magnus irritably. “And stay
away from the borders of the pentagram. Summon a demon and trap it in a pentagram,
and it can’t get out to harm you. But step into the pentagram, and you’ve put yourself in
the demon’s range of power—”
At that moment the pillar of smoke began to coalesce. Magnus’s head whipped up, and
Alec stood, almost knocking over his chair, as the smoke took on the form of Azazel. His
suit formed first—a gray and silver pinstripe, with elegant cuffs—and then he seemed to
fill it out, his flame eyes the last thing to appear. He looked around him in evident
pleasure. “The gang’s all here, I see,” he said. “So, have you come to a decision?”
“We have,” said Magnus. “I don’t believe we’ll be requiring your services. Thanks
There was a silence.
“You can go now.” Magnus wiggled his fingers in a goodbye wave. “Ta.”
“I don’t think so,” Azazel said pleasantly, whipping out his handkerchief and buffing his
nails with it. “I think I’ll stay. I like it here.”
Magnus sighed and said something to Alec, who went to the table and returned
carrying a book, which he handed to the warlock. Magnus flipped it open and began to
read. “Damned spirit, begone. Return thou to the realm of smoke and flame, of ash and
“That won’t work on me,” said the demon in a bored voice. “Go ahead and try, if you
like. I’ll still be here.”
Magnus looked at him with eyes smoldering with rage. “You can’t force us to bargain
with you.”
“I can try. It’s hardly as if I have anything better to occupy—”
Azazel broke off as a familiar shape streaked through the room. It was Chairman Meow,
hot on the heels of what looked like a mouse. As everyone watched in surprise and
horror, the small cat dashed through the outline of the pentagram—and Simon, acting on
instinct rather than rational thought, jumped into the pentagram after him and scooped
him up into his arms.
“Simon!” He knew without turning around that it was Isabelle, her cry reflexive. He
turned to look at her as she clapped her hand over her mouth and looked at him with
wide eyes. They were all staring. Izzy’s face was drained white with horror, and even
Magnus looked unsettled.
Summon a demon and trap it in a pentagram, and it can’t get out to harm you. But step
into the pentagram, and you’ve put yourself in the demon’s range of power.
Simon felt a tap on his shoulder. He dropped Chairman Meow as he turned, and the
small cat streaked out of the pentagram and across the room to hide under a sofa. Simon
looked up. The massive face of Azazel loomed over him. This close, he could see the
cracks in the demon’s skin, like cracks in marble, and the flames deep in Azazel’s pitted
eyes. When Azazel smiled, Simon saw that each of his teeth was tipped with a needle of
Azazel exhaled. A cloud of hot sulfur spread around Simon. He was dimly aware of
Magnus’s voice, rising and falling in a chant, and Isabelle screaming something as the
demon’s hands clamped around his arms. Azazel lifted Simon off the ground so his feet
were dangling in the air—and threw him.
Or tried to. His hands slipped off Simon; Simon dropped to the ground in a crouch as
Azazel shot backward and seemed to hit an invisible barrier. There was a sound like stone
shattering. Azazel slid to his knees, then painfully rose to his feet. He looked up with a
roar, teeth flashing, and stalked toward Simon—who, realizing belatedly what was going
on, reached up with a shaking hand and pushed the hair back from his forehead.
Azazel stopped in his tracks. His hands, the nails tipped with the same sharp iron as his
teeth, curled in toward his sides. “Wanderer,” he breathed. “Is it you?”
Simon stayed frozen. Magnus was still chanting softly in the background, but everyone
else was silent. Simon was afraid to look around, to catch the eye of any of his friends.
Clary and Jace, he thought, had already seen the work of the Mark, its blazing fire. No
one else had. No wonder they were wordless.
“No,” Azazel said, his fiery eyes narrowing. “No, you are too young, and the world too
old. But who would dare place Heaven’s mark on a vampire? And why?”
Simon lowered his hand. “Touch me again and find out,” he said.
Azazel gave a rumbling sound—half laughter, half disgust. “I think not,” he said. “If you
have been dabbling in bending the will of Heaven, even my freedom is not worth
gambling for by allying my fate with yours.” He glanced around the room. “You are all
madmen. Good luck, human children. You will need it.”
And he vanished in a burst of flame, leaving searing black smoke—and the stink of
“Hold still,” Jace said, taking the Herondale dagger in his hand and using the tip of it to
slice Clary’s shirt open from the collar to the hem. He took the two halves of it and
pushed them gingerly off her shoulders, leaving her sitting on the edge of the sink in just
her jeans and a camisole. Most of the ichor and venom had gotten on her jeans and coat,
but the fragile silk shirt was trashed. Jace dropped it into the sink, where it sizzled in the
water, and applied his stele to her shoulder, tracing the outlines of the healing rune
She closed her eyes, feeling the burn of the rune, and then a rush as the relief from
pain spread up her arms and down her back. It was like Novocain, but without making her
“Better?” Jace asked.
She opened her eyes. “Much.” It wasn’t perfect—the irazte didn’t have much effect on
burns caused by demon venom, but those tended to heal quickly on Shadowhunter skin.
As it was, they stung only a little, and Clary, still feeling the high of the battle, barely
noticed it. “Your turn?”
He grinned and offered her the stele. They were in the back of the antiques store.
Sebastian had gone to lock up and dim the lights up front, lest they attract mundane
attention. He was excited about “celebrating” and when he had left them, had been
debating whether to go back to the apartment and change, or straight to the nightclub in
the Malá Strana.
If there was a part of Clary that felt the wrongness of it, the idea of celebrating
anything, it was lost in the humming of her blood. Amazing that it had taken fighting
alongside Sebastian of all people to flip the switch inside her that seemed to turn her
Shadowhunter instincts on. She wanted to leap tall buildings in a single bound, do a
hundred flips, learn to scissor her blades the way Jace did. Instead she took the stele
from him and said, “Take your shirt off, then.”
He pulled it over his head, and she tried to look unaffected. He had a long cut along his
side, angry purple-red along the edges, and the burns of demon blood across his
collarbone and right shoulder. Still, he was the most beautiful person she had ever
known. Pale gold skin, broad shoulders, narrow waist and hips, that thin line of golden
hair that ran from his navel to the waistband of his jeans. She pulled her eyes away from
him and set the stele to his shoulder, industriously carving into his skin what had to be
the millionth healing rune he’d ever gotten.
“Good?” she asked when she was finished.
“Mmm-hmm.” He leaned in, and she could smell the scent of him—blood and charcoal,
sweat, and the cheap soap they’d found by the sink. “I liked that,” he said. “Didn’t you?
Fighting together like that?”
“It was… intense.” He was standing between her legs already; he moved closer, fingers
looping into the waistband of her jeans. Her hands fluttered to his shoulders, and she saw
the gleam of the gold leaf-ring on her finger. It sobered her slightly. Don’t get distracted;
don’t get lost in this. This isn’t Jace, isn’t Jace, isn’t Jace.
His lips brushed hers. “I thought it was incredible. You were incredible.”
“Jace,” she whispered, and then there was a banging on the door. Jace let go of her in
surprise, and she slid backward, knocking into the faucet, which immediately turned on,
spraying them both with water. She yelped with surprise, and Jace burst out laughing,
turning to throw the door open as Clary twisted around to turn the faucet off.
It was Sebastian, of course. He looked remarkably clean, considering what they’d been
through. He’d discarded his stained leather jacket in favor of an antique military coat,
which, thrown over his T-shirt, lent him a look of thrift-store chic. He was carrying
something in his hands, something black and shiny.
He raised his eyebrows.
“Is there a reason you just threw my sister into the sink?”’
“I was sweeping her off her feet,” said Jace, bending down to grab his shirt. He yanked
it back on. Like Sebastian’s, his outerwear had sustained most of the damage, though
there was a rip down the side of the shirt where a demon’s claw had slashed through.
“I brought you something to wear,” said Sebastian, handing the shiny black thing to
Clary, who had wriggled out of the sink and was now standing, dripping soapy water onto
the tiled floor. “It’s vintage. It looks about your size.”
Startled, Clary handed Jace back his stele and took the proffered garment. It was a
dress—a slip, really—jet-black, with elaborately beaded straps and a lace hem. The
straps were adjustable, and the fabric was stretchy enough that she suspected Sebastian
was right, it probably would fit her. Part of her didn’t like the idea of wearing something
Sebastian had picked, but she couldn’t exactly go out to a club in an unraveling camisole
and a pair of soaking-wet jeans. “Thanks,” she said finally. “All right, both of you get out
of here while I change.”
They left, closing the door behind them. She could hear them, raised boys’ voices, and
though she couldn’t hear the words, she could tell they were joking with each other.
Comfortably. Familiarly. It was so strange, she thought as she shucked off her jeans and
cami and slipped the dress over her head. Jace, who hardly ever opened up to anyone,
was laughing and joking around with Sebastian.
She turned to look at herself in the mirror. The black washed the color out of her skin,
made her eyes look big and dark and her hair redder, her arms and legs long and thin and
pale. Her eyes were smudged with dark shadow. The boots she had been wearing under
her jeans added a certain toughness to the outfit. She wasn’t sure if she looked pretty
exactly, but she sure looked like she was someone who shouldn’t be messed with.
She wondered if Isabelle would approve.
She unlocked the bathroom door and stepped out. She was in the dim back of the
store, where all the junk that wasn’t housed up front had been tossed carelessly. A velvet
curtain separated it from the rest of the establishment. Jace and Sebastian were on the
other side of the curtain, talking, though she still couldn’t make out the words. She pulled
the curtain aside and stepped out.
The lights were on, though the metal awning had been lowered over the glass front of
the store, rendering the inside invisible to passersby. Sebastian was going through the
stuff on the shelves, his long careful hands taking down object after object, subjecting
them to a cursory inspection, and placing them back on the shelf.
Jace was the first one to see Clary. She saw his eyes spark, and remembered the first
time he had seen her dressed up, wearing Isabelle’s clothes, on her way to Magnus’s
party. As they had then, his eyes traveled slowly from the boots, up her legs, hips, waist,
chest, and came to rest on her face. He smiled lazily.
“I could point out that that’s not a dress, that’s underwear,” he said, “but I doubt it
would be in my best interest.”
“Need I remind you,” said Sebastian, “that that is my sister?”
“Most brothers would be delighted to see such a clean-cut gentleman as myself squiring
their sisters about town,” said Jace, grabbing an army jacket off one of the racks and
sliding his arms into it.
“Squiring?” Clary echoed. “Next you’ll be telling me you’re a rogue and a rake.”
“And then it’s pistols at dawn,” said Sebastian, striding toward the velvet curtain. “I’ll
be right back. I’ve got to wash the blood out of my hair.”
“Fussy, fussy,” Jace called after him with a grin, then reached for Clary and pulled her
against him. His voice dropped to a low whisper. “Remember when we went to Magnus’s
party? You came out into the lobby with Isabelle, and Simon almost had an apoplectic
“Funny, I was thinking about the same thing.” She tipped her head back to look up at
him. “I don’t remember you saying anything at the time about the way I looked.”
His fingers slid under the straps of her slip dress, the tips brushing her skin. “I didn’t
think you liked me much. And I didn’t think a detailed description of all the things I
wanted to do to you, delivered in front of an audience, would have been the thing to
change your mind.”
“You didn’t think I liked you?” Her voice rose incredulously. “Jace, when has a girl ever
not liked you?”
He shrugged. “Doubtless the lunatic asylums of the world are filled with unfortunate
women who have failed to see my charms.”
A question hovered on the tip of her tongue, one she had always wanted to ask him but
never had. After all, what did it really matter what he’d done before he met her? As if he
could read the expression on her face, his golden eyes softened slightly.
“I never cared what girls thought about me,” he said. “Not before you.”
Before you. Clary’s voice shook a little. “Jace, I wondered—”
“Your verbal foreplay is boring and annoying,” said Sebastian, reappearing around the
velvet curtain, his silver hair damp and tousled. “Ready to go?”
Clary stepped free of Jace, blushing; Jace looked unruffled. “We’re the ones who’ve
been waiting for you.”
“Looks like you found a way to pass the agonizing time. Now come on. Let’s go. I’m
telling you, you’re going to love this place.”
“I am never getting my security deposit back,” said Magnus glumly. He sat on top of the
table, among the pizza boxes and coffee mugs, watching as the rest of Team Good did
their best to clean up the destruction left by Azazel’s appearance—the smoking holes
pocked into the walls, the sulfurous black goo dripping from the ceiling pipes, the ash and
other grainy black substances ground into the floor. Chairman Meow was stretched across
the warlock’s lap, purring. Magnus was off cleaning duty because he’d allowed his
apartment to be half-destroyed; Simon was off cleaning duty because after the
pentagram incident no one seemed to know quite what to make of him. He’d tried to talk
to Isabelle, but she’d only shaken her mop at him in a threatening manner.
“I have an idea,” Simon said. He was sitting next to Magnus, his elbows on his knees.
“But you’re not going to like it.”
“I have a feeling you’re right, Sherwin.”
“Simon. My name is Simon.”
“Whatever.” Magnus waved a slender hand. “What’s your idea?”
“I’ve got the Mark of Cain,” said Simon. “That means nothing can kill me, right?”
“You can kill yourself,” Magnus said, somewhat unhelpfully. “As far as I know,
inanimate objects can accidentally kill you. So if you were planning on teaching yourself
the lambada on a greased platform over a pit full of knives, I wouldn’t.”
“There goes my Saturday.”
“But nothing else can kill you,” Magnus said. His eyes had drifted away from Simon,
and he was watching Alec, who appeared to be battling a Swiffer. “Why?”
“What happened in the pentagram, with Azazel, made me think,” said Simon. “You said
summoning angels is more dangerous than summoning demons, because they might
smite down the person who summoned them, or scorch them with heavenly fire. But if I
did it…” His voice trailed off. “Well, I’d be safe, wouldn’t I?”
That snapped Magnus’s attention back. “You? Summon an angel?”
“You could show me how,” said Simon. “I know I’m not a warlock, but Valentine did it.
If he did it, shouldn’t I be able to? I mean, there are humans who can do magic.”
“I couldn’t promise you’d live,” Magnus said, but there was a spark of interest in his
voice that belied the warning. “The Mark is Heaven’s protection, but does it protect you
against Heaven itself? I don’t know the answer.”
“I didn’t think you did. But you agree that out of all of us I probably have the best
chance, right?”
Magnus looked over at Maia, who was splashing dirty water at Jordan and laughing as
he twisted away, yelping. She pushed her curling hair back, leaving a dark streak of dirt
across her forehead. She looked young. “Yes,” Magnus said reluctantly. “Probably you
“Who is your father?” asked Simon.
Magnus’s eyes went back to Alec. They were gold-green, as unreadable as the eyes of
the cat he held on his lap. “Not my favorite topic, Smedley.”
“Simon,” said Simon. “If I’m going to die for you all, the least you could do is remember
my name.”
“You’re not dying for me,” said Magnus. “If it weren’t for Alec, I’d be…”
“You’d be where?”
“I had a dream,” Magnus said, his eyes distant. “I saw a city all of blood, with towers
made of bone, and blood ran in the streets like water. Maybe you can save Jace,
Daylighter, but you can’t save the world. The darkness is coming. ‘A land of darkness, as
darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as
darkness.’ If it weren’t for Alec, I’d be gone from here.”
“Where would you go?”
“Hide. Wait for it to blow over. I’m not a hero.” Magnus picked up Chairman Meow and
dumped him onto the floor.
“You love Alec enough to stick around,” said Simon. “That’s kind of heroic.”
“You loved Clary enough to wreck your whole life for her,” said Magnus with a
bitterness that was not characteristic of him. “See where that got you.” He raised his
voice. “All right, everybody. Get over here. Sheldon’s had an idea.”
“Who’s Sheldon?” said Isabelle.
The streets of Prague were cold and dark, and though Clary kept her ichor-burned coat
wrapped around her shoulders, she found the icy air cutting into the buzzing hum in her
veins, muting the leftover high from the battle. She bought a cup of hot wine to keep the
buzz going, wrapping her hands around it for warmth as she, Jace, and Sebastian lost
themselves in a twisting labyrinth of ever narrower, ever darker ancient streets. There
were no street signs or names, and no other pedestrians; the only constant was the moon
moving through thick clouds overhead. At last a shallow flight of stone steps took them
down into a tiny square, one side of which was lit by a flashing neon sign that said KOSTI
LUSTR. Below the sign was an open door, a blank spot in the wall that looked like a
missing tooth.
“What does that mean, ‘Kosti Lustr’?” Clary asked.
“It means ‘The Bone Chandelier.’ It’s the name of the nightclub,” said Sebastian,
sauntering forward. His pale hair reflected the changing neon colors of the sign: hot red,
cold blue, metallic gold. “You coming?”
A wall of sound and light hit Clary the moment she entered the club. It was a big,
tightly packed space that looked like it had once been the interior of a church. She could
still see stained-glass windows high up in the walls. Darting colored spotlights picked out
the blissed-out faces of dancers in the churning crowd, lighting them up one at a time:
hot pink, neon green, burning violet. There was a DJ booth along one wall, and trance
music blasted from the speakers. The music pounded up through her feet, into her blood,
vibrating her bones. The room was hot with the press of bodies and the smell of sweat
and smoke and beer.
She was about to turn and ask Jace if he wanted to dance, when she felt a hand on her
back. It was Sebastian. She tensed but didn’t pull away. “Come on,” he said into her ear.
“We’re not staying up here with the hoi polloi.”
His hand was like iron pressing against her spine. She let him propel her forward,
through the dancers; the crowd seemed to part to let them through, people looking up to
glance at Sebastian, then dropping their gazes, backing away. The heat increased, and
Clary was almost gasping by the time they reached the far side of the room. There was
an archway there that she hadn’t noticed before. A set of worn stone steps led downward,
curving away into darkness.
She glanced up as Sebastian took his hand away from her back. Light blazed around
them. Jace had taken out his witchlight rune-stone. He grinned at her, his face all angles
and shadows in the harsh, focused light.
“‘Easy is the descent,’” he said.
Clary shivered. She knew the whole phrase. Easy is the descent into Hell.
“Come on.” Sebastian jerked his head, and then he was moving downward, graceful
and sure-footed, not worried about slipping on the age-smoothed stones. Clary followed a
little more slowly. The air grew cooler as they went down, and the sound of the pounding
music faded. She could hear their breathing, and see their shadows thrown, distorted and
spindly, against the walls.
She heard the new music before they reached the bottom of the stairs. It had an even
more insistent beat than the music in the club upstairs; it shot through her ears and into
her veins and spun her around. She was almost dizzy by the time they reached the last of
the stairs and stepped out into a massive room that stole her breath.
Everything was stone, the walls bumpy and uneven, the floor smooth beneath their
feet. A massive statue of a black-winged angel rose along the far wall, its head lost in
shadows far above, its wings dripping strings of garnets that looked like drops of blood.
Explosions of color and light burst like cherry bombs throughout the room, nothing like
the artificial light upstairs—these were beautiful, sparkling like fireworks, and every time
one burst, it rained down a glittering shimmer onto the dancing crowd below. Huge
marble fountains sprayed sparkling water; black rose petals drifted onto the surface. And
far above everything, dangling down above the packed floor of dancers on a long golden
cord, was a massive chandelier made of bones.
It was as intricate as it was gruesome. The main body of the chandelier was formed by
spinal columns, fused together; femurs and tibias dripped like decoration from the arms
of the fixture, which swooped up to cradle human skulls, each holding a massive taper.
Black wax dripped like demon blood to spatter on the dancers below, none of whom
seemed to notice. And the dancers themselves—whirling and spinning and clapping—
none of them were human.
“Werewolves and vampires,” said Sebastian, answering Clary’s unasked question. “In
Prague they’re allies. This is where they… relax.” A hot breeze was blowing through the
room, like desert wind; it lifted his silvery hair and blew it across his eyes, hiding their
Clary wriggled out of her coat and held it pressed against her chest almost like a shield.
She looked around with wide eyes. She could sense the nonhuman-ness of the others in
the room, the vampires with their pallor and their swift and languid grace, the
werewolves fierce and fast. Most were young, dancing close, writhing up and down each
other’s bodies. “But—won’t they mind us being here? Nephilim?”
“They know me,” said Sebastian. “And they’ll know you’re with me.” He reached out
and tugged the coat out of her grip. “I’ll go get that hung up for you.”
“Sebastian—,” But he was gone, into the crowd.
She looked at Jace beside her. He had his thumbs hooked into his belt and was looking
around with casual interest. “Vampire coat check?” she said.
“Why not?” Jace smiled. “You’ll notice he didn’t offer to take my coat. Chivalry is dead, I
tell you.” He tipped his head to the side at her quizzical expression. “Whatever. There’s
probably someone he has to talk to here.”
“So this isn’t just for fun?”
“Sebastian never does anything just for fun.” Jace took her hands and pulled her
toward him. “But I do.”
To Simon’s complete lack of surprise, no one was enthusiastic about his plan. There was
a loud chorus of disapproval, followed by a clamor of voices trying to talk him out of it,
and questions, mostly directed at Magnus, about the safety of the whole enterprise.
Simon rested his elbows on his knees and waited it out.
Eventually he felt a soft touch on his arm. He turned, and to his surprise it was Isabelle.
She gestured at him to follow her.
They wound up in the shadows near one of the pillars as the argument raged behind
them. Since Isabelle had initially been one of the loudest dissenters, he braced himself for
her to yell at him. However, she only looked at him with her mouth tight. “Okay,” he said
finally, hating the silence. “I guess you’re not pleased with me right now.”
“You guess? I’d kick your butt, vampire, but I don’t want to ruin my expensive new
“I’m not your girlfriend.”
“Right,” Simon said, though he couldn’t help a twinge of disappointment. “I know that.”
“And I’ve never begrudged you the time you’ve spent with Clary. I even encouraged it. I
know how much you care about her. And how much she cares about you. But this—this is
an insane risk you’re talking about taking. Are you sure?”
Simon looked around—at Magnus’s messy apartment, the small group in the corner
arguing about his fate. “This isn’t just about Clary.”
“Well, it isn’t about your mother, is it?” Isabelle said. “That she called you a monster?
You don’t have anything to prove, Simon. That’s her problem, not yours.”
“It’s not like that. Jace saved my life. I owe him.”
Isabelle looked surprised. “You’re not doing this just to pay Jace back, are you?
Because I think by now everyone’s pretty even.”
“No, not completely,” he said. “Look, we all know the situation. Sebastian can’t be
running around loose. It isn’t safe. The Clave is right about that much. But if he dies, Jace
dies. And if Jace dies, Clary…”
“She’ll survive,” Isabelle said, her voice quick and hard. “She’s tough and strong.”
“She’ll hurt. Maybe forever. I don’t want her to hurt like that. I don’t want you to hurt
like that.”
Isabelle crossed her arms. “Of course not. But do you think she won’t be hurt, Simon, if
something happens to you?”
Simon bit his lip. He actually hadn’t thought about it. Not like that. “What about you?”
“What about me?”
“Will you be hurt if something happens to me?”
She kept looking at him, her back straight, her chin steady. But her eyes were shining.
“But you want me to help Jace.”
“Yes. I want that, too.”
“You have to let me do this,” he said. “It’s not just for Jace, or for you and Clary,
though you’re all a big part of it. It’s because I believe darkness is coming. I believe
Magnus when he says it. I believe Raphael is truly afraid of a war. I believe we’re seeing
a small piece of Sebastian’s plan, but I don’t think it’s any coincidence he took Jace with
him when he went. Or that he and Jace are linked. He knows we need Jace to win a war.
He knows what Jace is.”
Isabelle didn’t deny it. “You’re just as brave as Jace.”
“Maybe,” said Simon. “But I’m not Nephilim. I can’t do what he can do. And I don’t
mean as much to as many people.”
“Special destinies and special torments,” Isabelle whispered. “Simon—you mean a lot
to me.”
He reached out, and lightly cupped her cheek. “You’re a warrior, Iz. It’s what you do.
It’s what you are. But if you can’t fight Sebastian because hurting him would hurt Jace,
you can’t fight the war. And if you have to kill Jace to win the war, I think it’ll kill part of
your soul. And I don’t want to see that, not if I could do something to change it.”
She swallowed. “It’s not fair,” she said. “That it has to be you—”
“This is my choice, to do this. Jace doesn’t have a choice. If he dies, it’s for something
he didn’t have anything to do with, not really.”
Isabelle expelled a breath. She uncrossed her arms and took him by the elbow. “All
right,” she said. “Let’s go.”
She steered him back toward the group, who broke off their argument and stared when
she cleared her throat, as if they hadn’t quite realized the two of them had been missing
until this moment.
“That’s enough,” she said. “Simon has made his decision, and it’s his decision to make.
He’s going to summon Raziel. And we’re going to help him in any way we can.”
They danced. Clary tried to lose herself in the pounding beat of the music, the rush of
blood in her veins, the way she had once been able to do at Pandemonium with Simon.
Of course Simon had been a fairly terrible dancer, and Jace was an excellent dancer. She
supposed it made sense. With all that trained fighting control and careful grace, there
wasn’t much he couldn’t make his body do. When he flung his head back, his hair was
dark with sweat, pasted to his temples, and the curve of his throat gleamed in the light of
the bone chandelier.
She saw the way the other dancers looked at him—appreciation, speculation, predatory
hunger. A possessiveness she couldn’t name or control rose up inside her. She moved
closer, sliding up his body the way she’d seen girls do on the dance floor before but had
never had the nerve to try herself. She’d always been convinced she’d get her hair caught
on someone’s belt buckle, but things were different now. Her months of training didn’t
pay off just in a fight, but any time she had to use her body. She felt fluid, in control, in a
way she never had before. She pressed her body against Jace’s.
His eyes had been closed; he opened them just as an explosion of colored light lit up
the darkness above them. Metallic drops rained down on them; droplets were caught in
Jace’s hair and shimmering on his skin like mercury. He touched his fingers to a drop of
silver liquid on his collarbone and showed it to her, his lips curving. “Do you remember
what I told you that first time at Taki’s? About faerie food?”
“I remember you said you ran down Madison Avenue naked with antlers on your head,”
said Clary, blinking silver drops off her lashes.
“I don’t think that was ever proved to have actually been me.” Only Jace could talk
while he danced and not make it look awkward. “Well, this stuff”—and he flicked at the
silvery liquid that mixed with his hair and skin, painting him in metal—“is like that. It’ll get
He watched her with darkened eyes. “It can be fun.” Another of the drifting flowerthings
burst above their head; this spatter was silver-blue, like water. Jace licked a drop
off the side of his hand, studying her.
High. Clary had never done drugs, didn’t even drink. Maybe if you counted the bottle of
Kahlúa she and Simon had smuggled out of his mom’s liquor cabinet and drunk when
they’d been thirteen. They’d been heartily sick afterward; Simon had, in fact, thrown up in
a hedge. It hadn’t been worth it, but she did remember the sensation of being dizzy and
giggly and happy for no reason.
When Jace lowered his hand, his mouth was stained with silver. He was still watching
her, gold eyes dark under his long lashes.
Happy for no reason.
She thought of the way they had been together in the time after the Mortal War before
Lilith had begun to possess him. He had been the Jace in the photograph on his wall
then: so happy. They both had been happy. There had been no nagging doubt when she
looked at him, none of this feeling of tiny knives under her skin, eroding the closeness
between them.
She leaned up then, and kissed him, slowly and definitively, on the lips.
Her mouth exploded with a sweet-sour taste, a mixture of wine and candy. More of the
silvery liquid rained down on them as she pulled away from him, licking her mouth
deliberately. Jace was breathing hard; he reached for her, but she spun away, laughing.
She felt wild and free suddenly, and incredibly light. She knew there was something
terribly important she was supposed to be doing, but she couldn’t remember what it was,
or why she had cared. The faces of the dancers around her no longer looked vulpine and
faintly frightening, but darkly beautiful. She was in a great echoing cavern, and the
shadows around her were painted with colors lovelier and brighter than any sunset. The
angel statue that loomed above her seemed benevolent, a thousand times more so than
Raziel and his cold white light, and a high singing note sounded from it, pure and clear
and perfect. She spun, faster and faster, leaving behind grief, memories, loss, until she
spun into a pair of arms that snaked around her from behind and held her tight. She
looked down and saw scarred hands locked around her waist, slim beautiful fingers, the
Voyance rune. Jace. She melted back against him, closing her eyes, letting her head fall
into the curve of his shoulder. She could feel his heart beating against her spine.
No one else’s heart beat like Jace’s did, or ever could.
Her eyes flew open, and she spun around, her hands out to push him away.
“Sebastian,” she whispered. Her brother grinned down at her, silver and black like the
Morgenstern ring.
“Clarissa,” he said. “I want to show you something.”
No. The word came and went, dissolving like sugar into liquid. She couldn’t remember
why she was supposed to say no to him. He was her brother; she should love him. He
had brought her to this beautiful place. Perhaps he had done bad things, but that was a
long time ago and she could no longer remember what they were.
“I can hear angels singing,” she said to him.
He chuckled. “I see you found out that silvery stuff isn’t just glitter.” He reached
forward and stroked his forefinger across her cheekbone; it was silver when it came
away, as if he had caught a painted tear. “Come along, angel girl.” He held out his hand.
“But Jace,” she said. “I lost him in the crowd—”
“He’ll find us.” Sebastian’s hand clamped around hers, surprisingly warm and
comforting. She let him draw her toward one of the fountains in the middle of the room,
and set her down on the wide marble edge. He sat down beside her, her hand still in his.
“Look in the water,” he said. “Tell me what you see.”
She leaned over and looked into the smooth dark surface of the pool. She could see her
own face reflected back at her, her eyes wide and wild, her eye makeup smudged like
bruises, her hair tangled. And then Sebastian leaned over too, and she saw his face
beside hers. The silver of his hair reflected in the water made her think of the moon on
the river. She reached to touch its brilliance, and the water shivered apart, their
reflections distorting, unrecognizable.
“What is it?” Sebastian said, and there was a low urgency in his voice.
Clary shook her head; he was being very silly. “I saw you and me,” she said in a chiding
tone. “What else?”
He put his hand under her chin and turned her face toward him. His eyes were black,
night-black, with only a ring of silver separating the pupil from the iris. “Don’t you see it?
We’re the same, you and me.”
“The same?” She blinked at him. There was something very wrong with what he was
saying, though she couldn’t say quite what. “No…”
“You’re my sister,” he said. “We have the same blood.”
“You have demon blood,” she said. “Lilith’s blood.” For some reason this struck her as
funny, and she giggled. “You’re all dark, dark, dark. And Jace and I are light.”
“You have a dark heart in you, Valentine’s daughter,” he said. “You just won’t admit it.
And if you want Jace, you had better accept it. Because he belongs to me now.”
“Then, who do you belong to?”
Sebastian’s lips parted; he said nothing. For the first time, Clary thought, he looked as
if he had nothing to say. She was surprised; his words hadn’t meant much to her, and
she’d merely been idly curious. Before she could say anything else, a voice above them
“What’s going on?” It was Jace. He looked from one of them to the other, his face
unreadable. More of the shimmering stuff had gotten on him, silver drops clinging to the
gold of his hair. “Clary.” He sounded annoyed. She pulled away from Sebastian and
hopped to her feet.
“Sorry,” she said breathlessly. “I got lost in the crowd.”
“I noticed,” he said. “One second I was dancing with you, and the next you were gone
and a very persistent werewolf was trying to get the buttons on my jeans undone.”
Sebastian chuckled. “Girl or boy werewolf?”
“Not sure. Either way, they could have used a shave.” He took Clary’s hand, lightly
ringing her wrist with his fingers. “Do you want to go home? Or dance some more?”
“Dance some more. Is that all right?”
“Go ahead.” Sebastian leaned back, his hands braced behind him on the fountain’s
edge, his smile like the edge of a straight razor. “I don’t mind watching.”
Something flashed across Clary’s vision: the memory of a bloody handprint. It was gone
as soon as it had come, and she frowned. The night was too beautiful to think of ugly
things. She looked back at her brother only for a moment before she let Jace lead her
back through the crowd to its edge, near the shadows, where the press of bodies was
lighter. Another ball of colored light burst above their heads as they went, scattering
silver, and she tipped her head up, catching the salt-sweet drops on her tongue.
In the center of the room, beneath the bone chandelier, Jace stopped and she swung
toward him. Her arms were around him, and she felt the silver liquid trickling down her
face like tears. The fabric of his T-shirt was thin and she could feel the burn of his skin
underneath. Her hands slid up under the hem, her nails scratching lightly over his ribs.
Silver drops of liquid spangled his eyelashes as he lowered his glance to hers, leaned to
whisper in her ear. His hands moved over her shoulders, down her arms. Neither of them
were really dancing anymore: the hypnotic music went on around them, and the whirl of
other dancers, but Clary barely noticed. A couple moving past laughed and made a
derisive comment in Czech; Clary couldn’t understand it, but suspected the gist was Get a
Jace made an impatient noise, and then he was moving through the crowd again,
drawing her after him and into one of the shadowy alcoves that lined the walls.
There were dozens of these circular alcoves, each lined with a stone bench and
provided with a velvet curtain that could be pulled closed to provide a modicum of
privacy. Jace yanked the curtain shut and they crashed against each other like the sea
against the shore. Their mouths collided and slid together; Jace lifted her up so she was
pressed against him, his fingers twisting in the slippery material of her dress.
Clary was conscious of heat and softness, hands seeking and finding, yielding and
pressure. Her hands under Jace’s T-shirt, her fingernails clawing at his back, savagely
pleased when he gasped. He bit down on her bottom lip and she tasted blood in her
mouth, salt and hot. It was as if they wanted to cut each other apart, she thought, to
climb inside each other’s bodies and share their heartbeats, even if it killed them both.
It was dark in the alcove, so dark that Jace was only an outline of shadows and gold.
His body pinned Clary’s to the wall. His hands slid down along her body and reached the
end of her dress, drawing it up along her legs.
“What are you doing?” she whispered. “Jace?”
He looked at her. The peculiar light in the club turned his eyes an array of fractured
colors. His smile was wicked. “You can tell me to stop whenever you want,” he said. “But
you won’t.”
Sebastian drew aside the dusty velvet curtain that closed off the alcove, and smiled.
A bench ran around the inside of the small circular room, and a man sat there, leaning
his elbows on a stone table. He had long black hair tied back, a scar or mark in the shape
of a leaf on one cheek, and his eyes were as green as grass. He wore a white suit, and a
handkerchief with green leaf embroidery peeked from one pocket.
“Jonathan Morgenstern,” Meliorn said.
Sebastian did not correct him. Faeries took great stock in names, and would never call
him by anything but the name his father had chosen for him. “I wasn’t sure you would be
here at the appointed time, Meliorn.”
“May I remind you that the Fair Folk do not lie,” said the knight. He reached up and
twitched the curtain shut behind Sebastian. The pounding music outside was discreetly
muffled, though by no means inaudible. “Come in, then, and seat yourself. Wine?”
Sebastian settled himself on the bench. “No, nothing.” Wine, like the faerie liquor,
would only cloud his thoughts, and faeries seemed to have a higher tolerance. “I admit I
was surprised when I received the message that you wished to meet here.”
“You above all should know that the Lady has a special interest in you. She knows of all
your movements.” Meliorn took a sip of wine. “There was a great demonic disturbance
here in Prague tonight. The Queen was concerned.”
Sebastian spread his arms out. “As you can see, I am unharmed.”
“A disturbance so great will surely win the attention of the Nephilim. In fact, if I am not
mistaken, several of them already disport themselves without.”
“Without what?” Sebastian asked innocently.
Meliorn took another sip of wine and glared.
“Oh, right. I always forget the amusing way faeries talk. You mean there are
Shadowhunters in the crowd outside, looking for me. I know that. I noticed them earlier.
The Queen does not think much of me if she does not think I can handle a few Nephilim
on my own.” Sebastian drew a dagger from his belt and twirled it, the very little light in
the alcove sparking off the blade.
“I shall tell her you said so,” muttered Meliorn. “I must admit, I have no idea what
attraction you hold for her. I have taken your measure and found it lacking, but I have not
my lady’s taste.”
“Weighed in the balance and found wanting?” Amused, Sebastian leaned forward. “Let
me break it down for you, faerie knight. I’m young. I’m pretty. And I’m willing to burn the
whole world to the ground to get what I want.” His dagger traced a crack in the stone
table. “Like myself, the Queen is content to play a long game. But what I desire to know
is this: When the twilight of the Nephilim comes, will the Courts stand with or against
Meliorn’s face was blank. “The Lady says she stands with you.”
Sebastian’s mouth curled at the corner. “That is excellent news.”
Meliorn snorted. “I always presumed the race of humans would end themselves,” he
said. “Through a thousand years I have prophesied that you would be your own deaths.
But I did not expect the end to come like this.”
Sebastian twirled the bright dagger between his fingers. “No one ever does.”
“Jace,” Clary whispered. “Jace, anyone could come in and see us.”
His hands didn’t stop what they were doing. “They won’t.” He trailed a path of kisses
down her neck, effectively scattering her thoughts. It was hard to hold on to what was
real, with his hands on her, and her mind and memories in a whirl, and her fingers were
so tightly bunched in Jace’s shirt that she was sure she was going to rip the material.
The stone wall was cold against her back, but Jace was kissing her shoulder, easing the
strap of her dress down. She was hot and cold and shivering. The world had fractured into
bits, like the bright pieces inside a kaleidoscope. She was going to come apart under his
“Jace—” She clung to his shirt. It was sticky, viscous. She glanced down at her hands
and for a moment didn’t comprehend what she saw there. Silver fluid, mixed with red.
She looked up. Hanging upside-down from the ceiling above them, like a grisly piñata,
was a human body, rope binding its ankles. Blood dripped from its cut throat.
Clary screamed, but the scream made no sound. She pushed at Jace, who stumbled
back; there was blood in his hair, on his shirt, on her bare skin. She pulled up the straps
of her dress and stumbled to the curtain that hid the alcove, yanking it open.
The statue of the angel was no longer quite as it had been. The black wings were bat’s
wings, the lovely, benevolent face twisted into a sneer. Dangling from the ceiling on
twisted ropes were the slaughtered bodies of men, women, animals—slashed open, their
blood dripping down like rain. The fountains pulsed blood, and what floated on top of the
liquid was not flowers but open severed hands. The writhing, clawing dancers on the floor
were drenched in blood. As Clary watched, a couple spun by, the man tall and pale, the
woman limp in his arms, her throat torn, obviously dead. The man licked his lips and bent
down for another bite, but before he did, he glanced at Clary and grinned, and his face
was streaked with blood and silver. She felt Jace’s hand on her arm, tugging her back, but
she fought free of him. She was staring at the glass tanks along the wall that she had
thought held brilliant fish. The water was not clear but blackish and sludgy, and drowned
human bodies floated in it, their hair spinning around them like the filaments of luminous
jellyfish. She thought of Sebastian floating in his glass coffin. A screa


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