Wednesday, 20 February 2013

City of Lost Souls - Chapter 20

Clary screamed aloud in pure frustration as the shard of glass embedded itself in the
wooden floor, inches from Sebastian’s throat.
She felt him laugh underneath her. “You can’t do it,” he said. “You can’t kill me.”
“To hell with you,” she snarled. “I can’t kill Jace.”
“Same thing,” he said, and, sitting up so fast she barely saw him move, he belted her
across the face with enough force to send her skidding across the glass-strewn floor. Her
slide was arrested when she hit the wall, gagged, and coughed blood. She buried her
head against her forearm, the taste and smell of her own blood everywhere, sickening
and metallic. A moment later Sebastian’s hand was fisted in her jacket and he was
hauling her to her feet.
She didn’t fight him. What was the point? Why fight someone when they were willing to
kill you and they knew you weren’t willing to kill, or even seriously wound, them? They’d
always win. She stood still as he examined her. “Could be worse,” he said. “Looks like the
jacket kept you from any real damage.”
Real damage? Her body felt like it had been sliced all over with thin knives. She glared
at him through her eyelashes as he swung her up into his arms. It was like it had been in
Paris, when he’d carried her away from the Dahak demons, but then she had been—if not
grateful, at least confused, and now she was filled with a boiling hatred. She kept her
body tense while he carried her upstairs, his boots ringing on the glass. She was trying to
forget she was touching him, that his arm was under her thighs, his hands possessive on
her back.
I will kill him, she thought. I will find a way, and I will kill him.
He walked into Jace’s room and dumped her onto the floor. She staggered back a step.
He caught her and ripped the jacket off her. Underneath she was wearing only a T-shirt.
It was shredded as if she’d run a cheese grater over it, and stained everywhere with
Sebastian whistled.
“You’re a mess, little sister,” he said. “Better get in the bathroom and wash some of
that blood off.”
“No,” she said. “Let them see me like this. Let them see what you had to do to get me
to come with you.”
His hand shot out and grabbed her under the chin, forcing her face up to his. Their
faces were inches apart. She wanted to close her eyes but refused to give him the
satisfaction; she stared back at him, at the loops of silver in his black eyes, the blood on
his lip where she’d bitten him. “You belong to me,” he said again. “And I will have you by
my side, however I have to force you to be there.”
“Why?” she demanded, rage as bitter on her tongue as the taste of blood. “What do
you care? I know you can’t kill Jace, but you could kill me. Why don’t you just do it?”
Just for a moment, his eyes went distant, glassy, as if he were seeing something
invisible to her. “This world will be consumed by hellfire,” he said. “But I will bring you
and Jace safely through the flames if you only do what I ask. It is a grace I extend to no
one else. Do you not see how foolish you are to reject it?”
“Jonathan,” she said. “Don’t you see how impossible it is to ask me to fight by your side
when you want to burn down the world?”
His eyes refocused on her face. “But why?” It was almost plaintive. “Why is this world
so precious to you? You know that there are others.” His own blood was very red against
his stark white skin. “Tell me you love me. Tell me you love me and will fight with me.”
“I’ll never love you. You were wrong when you said we have the same blood. Your
blood is poison. Demon poison.” She spat the last words.
He only smiled, his eyes glowing darkly. She felt something burn on her upper arm, and
she jumped before she realized it was a stele; he was tracing an iratze on her skin. She
hated him even as the pain faded. His bracelet clanked on his wrist as he moved his hand
skillfully, completing the rune.
“I knew you lied,” she said to him suddenly.
“I tell so many lies, sweetheart,” he said. “Which one specifically?”
“Your bracelet,” she said. “‘ Acheronta movebo.’ It doesn’t mean ‘Thus always to
tyrants.’ That’s ‘ sic semper tyrannis.’ This is from Virgil. ‘Flectere si nequeo superos,
Acheronta movebo.’ ‘If I cannot move Heaven, I will raise Hell.’”
“Your Latin’s better that I thought.”
“I learn fast.”
“Not fast enough.” He released his grip on her chin. “Now get into the bathroom and
clean yourself up,” he said, shoving her backward. He grabbed her mother’s ceremonial
dress off the bed and dumped it into her arms. “Time grows short, and my patience wears
thin. If you’re not out in ten minutes, I’ll come in after you. And trust me, you won’t like
“I’m starving,” Maia said. “I feel like I haven’t eaten in days.” She pulled the refrigerator
door open and peered in. “Oh, yuck.”
Jordan pulled her back, wrapping his arms around her, and nuzzled the back of her
neck. “We can order food. Pizza, Thai, Mexican, whatever you want. As long as it doesn’t
cost more than twenty-five dollars.”
She turned around in his arms, laughing. She was wearing one of his shirts; it was a
little too big on him, and on her it hung nearly to her knees. Her hair was pulled up in a
knot at the back of her neck. “Big spender,” she said.
“For you, anything.” He lifted her up by the waist and set her on one of the counter
stools. “You can have a taco.” He kissed her. His lips were sweet, slightly minty from
toothpaste. She felt the buzz in her body that came from touching him, that started at the
base of her spine and shot through all her nerves.
She giggled against his mouth, wrapping her arms around his neck. A sharp ringing cut
through the humming in her blood as Jordan pulled away, frowning. “My phone.” Hanging
on to her with one hand, he fumbled behind himself on the counter until he found it. It
had stopped ringing, but he lifted it anyway, frowning. “It’s the Praetor.”
The Praetor never called, or at least rarely. Only when something was of deadly
importance. Maia sighed and leaned back. “Take it.”
He nodded, already lifting the phone to his ear. His voice was a soft murmur in the
back of her consciousness as she jumped down from the counter and went to the
refrigerator, where the take-out menus were pinned. She riffled through them until she
found the menu for the local Thai place she liked, and turned around with it in her hand.
Jordan was now standing in the middle of the living room, white-faced, with his phone
forgotten in his hand. Maia could hear a tinny, distant voice coming from it, saying his
Maia dropped the menu and hurried across the room to him. She took the phone out of
his hand, disconnected the call, and set it on the counter. “Jordan? What happened?”
“My roommate—Nick—you remember?” he said, disbelief in his hazel eyes. “You never
met him but—”
“I saw the photos of him,” she said. “Has something happened?”
“He’s dead.”
“Throat torn out, all his blood gone. They think he tracked his assignment down and
she killed him.”
“Maureen?” Maia was shocked. “But she was just a little girl.”
“She’s a vampire now.” He took a ragged breath. “Maia…”
She stared at him. His eyes were glassy, his hair tousled. A sudden panic rose inside
her. Kissing and cuddling and even sex were one thing. Comforting someone when they
were stricken with loss was something else. It meant commitment. It meant caring. It
meant you wanted to ease their pain, and at the same time you were thanking God that
whatever the bad thing was that had happened, it hadn’t happened to them.
“Jordan,” she said softly, and reaching up on her toes, she put her arms around him.
“I’m sorry.”
Jordan’s heart beat hard against hers. “Nick was only seventeen.”
“He was a Praetor, like you,” she said softly. “He knew it was dangerous. You’re only
eighteen.” He tightened his grip on her but said nothing. “Jordan,” she said. “I love you. I
love you and I’m sorry.”
She felt him freeze. It was the first time she’d said the words since a few weeks before
she’d been bitten. He seemed to be holding his breath. Finally he let it out with a gasp.
“Maia,” he croaked. And then, unbelievably, before he could say another word—her
phone rang.
“Never mind,” she said. “I’ll ignore it.”
He let her go, his face soft, bemused with grief and amazement. “No,” he said. “No, it
could be important. You go ahead.”
She sighed and went to the counter. It had stopped ringing by the time she reached it,
but there was a text message blinking on the screen. She felt her stomach muscles
“What is it?” Jordan asked, as if he had sensed her sudden tension. Maybe he had.
“A 911. An emergency.” She turned to him, holding the phone. “A call to battle. It went
out to everyone in the pack. From Luke—and Magnus. We have to leave right away.”
Clary sat on the floor of Jace’s bathroom, her back against the tile of the tub, her legs
stretched out in front of her. She had cleaned the blood from her face and body, and
rinsed her bloody hair in the sink. She was wearing her mother’s ceremonial dress, rucked
up to her thighs, and the tiled floor was cold against her bare feet and calves.
She looked down at her hands. They ought to look different, she thought. But they
were the same hands she’d always had, thin fingers, squared-off nails—you didn’t want
long nails when you were an artist—and freckles on the backs of the knuckles. Her face
looked the same too. All of her seemed the same, but she wasn’t. These past few days
had changed her in ways she couldn’t quite yet fully comprehend.
She stood up and looked at herself in the mirror. She was pale, between the flame
colors of her hair and the dress. Bruises decorated her shoulders and throat.
“Admiring yourself?” She hadn’t heard Sebastian open the door, but there he was,
smirking intolerably as always, propped against the frame of the doorway. He was
wearing a kind of gear she had never seen before: the usual tough material, but in a
scarlet color like fresh blood. He had also added an accessory to his outfit—a recurved
crossbow. He held it casually in one hand, though it must have been heavy. “You look
lovely, sister. A fitting companion for me.”
She bit back her words with the taste of blood that still lingered in her mouth, and
walked toward him. He caught at her arm as she tried to squeeze past him in the
doorway. His hand ran over her bare shoulder. “Good,” he said. “You’re not Marked here.
I hate it when women ruin their skin with scars. Keep the Marks on your arms and legs.”
“I’d rather you didn’t touch me.”
He snorted, and swung the crossbow up. A bolt was fitted to it, ready to fire. “Walk,” he
said. “I’ll be right behind you.”
It took every ounce of effort she had not to flinch away from him. She turned and
walked toward the door, feeling a burning between her shoulder blades where she
imagined the arrow of the crossbow was trained. They moved like that down the glass
stairs and through the kitchen and living room. He grunted at the sight of Clary’s scrawled
rune on the wall, reached around her, and under his hand a doorway appeared. The door
itself swung open onto a square of darkness.
The crossbow jabbed Clary hard in the back. “Move.”
Taking a deep breath, she stepped out into the shadows.
Alec slammed his hand against the button in the small cage elevator, and slumped back
against the wall. “How much time do we have?”
Isabelle checked the glowing screen of her mobile phone. “About forty minutes.”
The elevator lurched upward. Isabelle cast a covert glance at her brother. He looked
tired—dark circles were under his eyes. Despite his height and strength, Alec, with his
blue eyes and soft black hair almost to his collar, looked more delicate than he was. “I’m
fine,” he said, answering her unspoken question. “You’re the one who’s going to be in
trouble for staying away from home. I’m over eighteen. I can do what I want.”
“I texted Mom every night and told her I was with you and Magnus,” Isabelle said as
the elevator came to a stop. “It’s not like she didn’t know where I was. And speaking of
Alec reached across her and pulled the elevator’s inside cage door open. “What?”
“Are you two okay? I mean, getting along all right?”
Alec shot her an incredulous look as he stepped out into the entryway. “Everything’s
going to hell in a handbasket, and you want to know about my relationship with Magnus?”
“I’ve always wondered about that expression,” Isabelle said thoughtfully as she hurried
after her brother down the hallway. Alec had long, long legs and, though she was fast, it
was hard to keep up with him when he wanted it to be. “Why a handbasket? What is a
handbasket, and why is it a particularly good form of transportation?”
Alec, who had been Jace’s parabatai long enough to have learned to ignore
conversational tangents, said, “Magnus and I are okay, I guess.”
“Uh-oh,” Isabelle said. “Okay, you guess? I know what it means when you say that.
What happened? Did you have a fight?”
Alec was tapping his fingers against the wall as they raced along, a sure sign that he
was uncomfortable. “Quit trying to meddle around in my love life, Iz. What about you?
Why aren’t you and Simon a couple? You obviously like him.”
Isabelle let out a squawk. “I am not obvious.”
“You are, actually,” Alec said, sounding as if it surprised him, too, now that he thought
about it. “Gazing at him all moony-eyed. The way you freaked out at the lake when the
Angel appeared—”
“I thought Simon was dead!”
“What, more dead?” said Alec unkindly. Seeing the expression on his sister’s face, he
shrugged. “Look, if you like him, fine. I just don’t see why you’re not dating.”
“Because he doesn’t like me.”
“Of course he does. Guys always like you.”
“Forgive me if I think your opinion is biased.”
“Isabelle,” Alec said, and now there was kindness in his voice, the tone she associated
with her brother—love and exasperation mixed together. “You know you’re gorgeous.
Guys have chased you since… forever. Why would Simon be different?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. But he is. I figure the ball is in his court. He knows how I
feel. But I don’t think he’s rushing to do anything about it.”
“To be fair, it’s not like he doesn’t have anything else going on.”
“I know, but—he’s always been like this. Clary—”
“You think he’s still in love with Clary?”
Isabelle chewed her lip. “I—not exactly. I think she’s the one thing he still has from his
human life, and he can’t let her go. And as long as he doesn’t let her go, I don’t know if
there’s room for me.”
They had almost reached the library. Alec looked sideways at Isabelle through his
lashes. “But if they’re just friends—”
“Alec.” She held up her hand, indicating that he should be quiet. Voices were coming
from the library, the first one strident and immediately recognizable as their mother’s:
“What do you mean she’s missing?”
“No one’s seen her in two days,” said another voice—soft, female, and slightly
apologetic. “She lives alone, so people weren’t sure—but we thought, since you know her
Without a pause Alec straight-armed the door of the library open. Isabelle ducked past
him to see her mother sitting behind the massive mahogany desk in the center of the
room. In front of her stood two familiar figures: Aline Penhallow, dressed in gear, and
beside her Helen Blackthorn, her curly hair in disarray. Both of them turned, looking
surprised, as the door opened. Helen, beneath her freckles, was pale; she was also in
gear, which drained the color out of her skin even more.
“Isabelle,” said Maryse, rising to her feet. “Alexander. What’s happened?”
Aline reached for Helen’s hand. Silver rings flashed on both their fingers. The Penhallow
ring, with its design of mountains, glinted on Helen’s finger, while the intertwined thorn
pattern of the Blackthorn family ring adorned Aline’s. Isabelle felt her eyebrows go up;
exchanging family rings was serious business. “If we’re intruding, we can go—” Aline
“No, stay,” said Izzy, striding forward. “We might need you.”
Maryse settled back into her chair. “So,” she said. “My children grace me with their
presence. Where have you two been?”
“I told you,” Isabelle said. “We were at Magnus’s.”
“Why?” Maryse demanded. “And I’m not asking you, Alexander. I’m asking my
“Because the Clave stopped looking for Jace,” said Isabelle. “But we didn’t.”
“And Magnus was willing to help,” Alec added. “He’s been up all these nights, searching
through spell books, trying to figure out where Jace might be. He even raised the—”
“No.” Maryse put up a hand to silence him. “Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.” The
black phone on her desk started to ring. They all stared at it. A black phone call was a call
from Idris. No one moved to answer it, and in a moment it was silent. “Why are you
here?” Maryse demanded, turning her attention back to her offspring.
“We were looking for Jace—,” Isabelle began again.
“It’s the Clave’s job to do that,” Maryse snapped. She looked tired, Isabelle noticed, the
skin stretched thin under her eyes. Lines at the corners of her mouth drew her lips into a
frown. She was thin enough that the bones of her wrists seemed to protrude. “Not yours.”
Alec slammed his hand down on the desk, hard enough to make the drawers rattle.
“Would you listen to us? The Clave didn’t find Jace, but we did. And Sebastian right along
with him. And now we know what they’re planning, and we have”—he glanced at the
clock on the wall—“barely any time to stop them. Are you going to help or not?”
The black phone rang again. Again Maryse didn’t even move to answer it. She was
looking at Alec, her face white with shock. “You did what?”
“We know where Jace is, Mom,” said Isabelle. “Or at least, where he’s going to be. And
what he’s going to do. We know Sebastian’s plan, and he has to be stopped. Oh, and we
know how we can kill Sebastian but not Jace—”
“Stop.” Maryse shook her head. “Alexander, explain. Concisely, and without hysteria.
Thank you.”
Alec launched into the story—leaving out, Isabelle thought, all the good parts, which
was how he managed to summarize things so neatly. As abbreviated as his rendition was,
both Aline and Helen were gaping by the end of it. Maryse stood very still, her features
immobile. When Alec was done, she said in a hushed voice:
“Why have you done these things?”
Alec looked taken aback.
“For Jace,” Isabelle said. “To get him back.”
“You realize that by putting me in this position, you give me no choice but to notify the
Clave,” said Maryse, her hand resting on the black phone. “I wish you hadn’t come here.”
Isabelle’s mouth went dry. “Are you seriously mad at us for finally telling you what’s
going on?”
“If I notify the Clave, they will send all their reinforcements. Jia will have no choice but
to give them instructions to kill Jace on sight. Do you have any idea how many
Shadowhunters Valentine’s son has following him?
Alec shook his head. “Maybe forty, it sounds like.”
“Say we brought twice as many as that. We could be fairly confident of defeating his
forces, but what kind of chance would Jace have? There’s almost no certainty he’d make
it through alive. They’ll kill him just to be sure.”
“Then, we can’t tell them,” said Isabelle. “We’ll go ourselves. We’ll do this without the
But Maryse, looking at her, was shaking her head. “The Law says we have to tell
“I don’t care about the Law—,” Isabelle began angrily. She caught sight of Aline looking
at her, and slammed her mouth shut.
“Don’t worry,” Aline said. “I’m not going to say anything to my mother. I owe you guys.
Especially you, Isabelle.” She tightened her jaw, and Isabelle remembered the darkness
under a bridge in Idris, and her whip tearing into a demon, its claws locked onto Aline.
“And besides, Sebastian killed my cousin. The real Sebastian Verlac. I have my own
reasons to hate him, you know.”
“Regardless,” said Maryse. “If we do not tell them, we will be breaking the Law. We
could be sanctioned, or worse.”
“Worse?” said Alec. “What are we talking about here? Exile?”
“I don’t know, Alexander,” said his mother. “It would be up to Jia Penhallow, and
whoever wins the Inquisitor’s position, to decide our punishment.”
“Maybe it’ll be Dad,” muttered Izzy. “Maybe he’ll go easy on us.”
“If we fail to notify them of this situation, Isabelle, there is no chance your father will
make Inquisitor. None,” said Maryse.
Isabelle took a deep breath. “Could we get our Marks stripped?” she said. “Could we…
lose the Institute?”
“Isabelle,” said Maryse. “We could lose everything.”
Clary blinked, her eyes adjusting to the darkness. She stood on a rocky plain, whipped by
wind, with nothing to break the force of the gale. Patches of grass grew up between slabs
of gray rock. In the far distance bleak, scree-covered karst hills rose, black and iron
against the night sky. There were lights up ahead. Clary recognized the bobbing white
glare of witchlight as the door of the apartment swung shut behind them.
There was the sound of a dull explosion. Clary whirled around to see that the door had
vanished; there was a charred patch of dirt and grass, still smoldering, where it had been.
Sebastian was staring at it in absolute astonishment. “What—”
She laughed. A dark glee rose in her at the look on his face. She had never seen him
shocked like that, his pretenses gone, his expression naked and horrified.
He swung the crossbow back up, inches from her chest. If he fired it at this distance,
the bolt would tear through her heart, killing her instantly. “What have you done?”
Clary gazed at him with dark triumph. “That rune. The one you thought was an
unfinished Opening rune. It wasn’t. It just wasn’t anything you’d ever seen before. It was
a rune I created.”
“A rune for what?”
She remembered putting the stele to the wall, the shape of the rune she had invented
on the night when Jace had come to her at Luke’s house. “Destroying the apartment the
second someone opened the door. The apartment’s gone. You can’t use it again. No one
“Gone?” The crossbow shook; Sebastian’s lips were twitching, his eyes wild. “You bitch.
You little—”
“Kill me,” she said. “Go ahead. And explain it to Jace afterward. I dare you.”
He looked at her, his chest heaving up and down, his fingers trembling on the trigger.
Slowly he slid his hand away from it. His eyes were small and furious. “There are worse
things than dying,” he said. “And I will do them all to you, little sister, once you’ve drunk
from the Cup. And you will like it.”
She spat at him. He jabbed her hard, agonizingly, in the chest with the tip of the bow.
“Turn around,” he snarled, and she did, dizzy with a mixture of terror and triumph as he
prodded her down a rocky slope. She was wearing thin slippers, and she felt every pebble
and crack in the rocks. As they neared the witchlight, Clary saw the scene laid out before
In front of her, the ground rose to a low hill. Atop the hill, facing north, was a massive
ancient stone tomb. It reminded her slightly of Stonehenge: there were two narrow
standing stones that held up a flat capstone, making the whole assemblage resemble a
doorway. In front of the tomb a flat sill stone, like the floor of a stage, stretched across
the shale and grass. Grouped before the flat stone was a half-circle of about forty
Nephilim, robed in red, carrying witchlight torches. Within their half-circle, against the
dark ground, blazed a blue-white pentagram.
Atop the flat stone stood Jace. He wore scarlet gear like Sebastian; they had never
looked so alike.
Clary could see the brightness of his hair even from a distance. He was pacing the edge
of the flat sill stone, and as they grew closer, Clary driven ahead by Sebastian, she could
hear what he was saying.
“… gratitude for your loyalty, even over these last difficult years, and grateful for your
belief in our father, and now in his sons. And his daughter.”
A murmur ran around the square. Sebastian shoved Clary forward, and they moved
through the shadows, and then climbed up onto the stone behind Jace. Jace saw them
and inclined his head before turning back to the crowd; he was smiling. “You are the ones
who will be saved,” he said. “A thousand years ago the Angel gave us his blood, to make
us special, to make us warriors. But it was not enough. A thousand years have passed,
and still we hide in the shadows. We protect mundanes we do not love from forces of
which they remain ignorant, and an ancient, ossified Law prevents us from revealing
ourselves as their saviors. We die in our hundreds, unthanked, unmourned but by our own
kind, and without recourse to the Angel who created us.” He moved closer to the edge of
the rock platform. The Shadowhunters before it were standing in a half-circle. His hair
looked like pale fire. “Yes. I dare to say it. The Angel who created us will not aid us, and
we are alone. More alone even than the mundanes, for as one of their great scientists
once said, they are like children playing with pebbles on the seashore, while all around
them the great ocean of truth lies undiscovered. But we know the truth. We are the
saviors of this earth, and we should be ruling it.”
Jace was a good speaker, Clary thought with a sort of pain at her heart, in the same
way that Valentine had been. She and Sebastian were behind him now, facing the plain
and the crowd on it; she could feel the stares of the gathered Shadowhunters on both of
“Yes. Ruling it.” He smiled, a lovely easy smile, full of charm, edged with darkness.
“Raziel is cruel and indifferent to our sufferings. It is time to turn from him. Turn to Lilith,
Great Mother, who will give us power without punishment, leadership without the Law.
Our birthright is power. It is time to claim it.”
He looked sideways with a smile as Sebastian moved forward. “And now I’ll let you
hear the rest of it from Jonathan, whose dream this is,” said Jace smoothly, and he
retreated, letting Sebastian slide easily into his place. He took another step back, and
now he was beside Clary, his hand reaching down to twine with hers.
“Good speech,” she muttered. Sebastian was speaking; she ignored him, focusing on
Jace. “Very convincing.”
“You think? I was going to start off ‘Friends, Romans, evildoers…’ but I didn’t think
they’d see the humor.”
“You think they’re evildoers?”
He shrugged. “The Clave would.” He looked away from Sebastian, down at her. “You
look beautiful,” he said, but his voice was oddly flat. “What happened?”
She was caught off guard. “What do you mean?”
He opened his jacket. Underneath he was wearing a white shirt. It was stained at the
side and the sleeve with red. She noticed he was careful to turn away from the crowd as
he showed her the blood. “I feel what he feels,” he said. “Or did you forget? I had to
iratze myself without anyone noticing. It felt like someone was slicing my skin with a
razor blade.”
Clary met his gaze. There was no point lying, was there? There was no going back,
literally or figuratively. “Sebastian and I had a fight.”
His eyes searched her face. “Well,” he said, letting his jacket fall closed, “I hope you’ve
worked it out, whatever it was.”
“Jace… ,” she began, but he had given his attention to Sebastian now. His profile was
cold and clear in the moonlight, like a silhouette cut out of dark paper. In front of them
Sebastian, who had set down his crossbow, raised his arms. “Are you with me?” he cried.
A murmur ran around the square, and Clary tensed. One of the group of Nephilim, an
older man, threw his hood back and scowled. “Your father made us many promises. None
were fulfilled. Why should we trust you?”
“Because I will bring you the fulfillment of my promises now. Tonight,” Sebastian said,
and from his tunic he drew the imitation Mortal Cup. It glowed softly white under the
The murmuring was louder now. Under its cover Jace said, “I hope this goes smoothly.
I feel like I didn’t sleep last night at all.”
He was facing the crowd and the pentagram, a look of keen interest on his face. His
face was delicately angular in the witchlight. She could see the scar on his cheek, the
hollows at his temples, the lovely shape of his mouth. I won’t remember this, he had said.
When I’m back—like I was, under his control, I won’t remember being myself. And it was
true. He had forgotten every detail. Somehow, though she had known it, had seen him
forget, the pain of the reality was acute.
Sebastian stepped down off the rock and moved toward the pentagram. At the edge of
it he began to chant. “Abyssum invoco. Lilith invoco. Mater mea, invoco.”
He drew a thin dagger from his belt. Tucking the Cup into the curve of his arm, he used
the edge of the blade to slice into his palm. Blood welled, black in the moonlight. He slid
the knife back into his belt and held his bleeding hand over the Cup, still chanting in
It was now or never. “Jace,” Clary whispered. “I know this isn’t really you. I know
there’s a part of you that can’t be all right with this. Try to remember who you are, Jace
His head whipped around, and he looked at her in astonishment. “What are you talking
“Please try to remember, Jace. I love you. You love me—”
“I do love you, Clary,” he said, an edge to his voice. “But you said you understood. This
is it. The culmination of everything we’ve worked toward.”
Sebastian flung the contents of the Cup into the center of the pentagram. “Hic est enim
calix sanguinis mei.”
“Not we,” Clary whispered. “I’m not part of this. Neither are you—”
Jace inhaled sharply. For a moment Clary thought it was because of what she’d said—
that maybe, somehow, she was breaking through his shell—but she followed his gaze and
saw that a spinning ball of fire had appeared in the center of the pentagram. It was about
the size of a baseball, but as she gazed, it grew, elongating and shaping itself, until at
last it was the outline of a woman, made all of flames.
“Lilith,” Sebastian said in a ringing voice. “As you called me forth, now I call you. As you
gave me life, so I give life to you.”
Slowly the flames darkened. She stood before them all now, Lilith, half again the height
of an ordinary human, stripped naked with her black hair waterfalling down her back to
her ankles. Her body was as gray as ash, fissured with black lines like volcanic lava. She
turned her eyes to Sebastian, and they were writhing black snakes.
“My child,” she breathed.
Sebastian seemed to glow, like witchlight himself—pale skin, pale hair, and his clothes
looked black in the moonlight. “Mother, I have called you up as you wished of me.
Tonight you will not just be my mother but mother to a new race.” He indicated the
waiting Shadowhunters, who were motionless, probably with shock. It was one thing to
know a Greater Demon was going to be called, another to see one in the flesh. “The
Cup,” he said, and held it out to her, its pale white rim stained with his blood.
Lilith chuckled. It sounded like massive stones grinding against one another. She took
the Cup and, as casually as one might pick an insect off a leaf, tore a gash in her ashy
gray wrist with her teeth. Very slowly, sludgy black blood trickled forth, spattering into
the Cup, which seemed to change, darkening under her touch, its clear translucence
turning to mud. “As the Mortal Cup has been to the Shadowhunters, both a talisman and
a means of transformation, so shall this Infernal Cup be to you,” she said in her charred,
windblown voice. She knelt, holding out the Cup to Sebastian. “Take of my blood and
Sebastian took the Cup from her hands. It had turned black now, a shimmering black
like hematite.
“As your army grows, so shall my strength,” Lilith hissed. “Soon I will be strong enough
to truly return—and we shall share the fire of power, my son.”
Sebastian inclined his head. “We proclaim you Death, my mother, and profess your
Lilith laughed, raising her arms. Fire licked up her body, and she launched herself into
the air, exploding into a dozen spinning particles of light that faded like the embers of a
dying fire. When they were gone completely, Sebastian kicked at the pentagram,
breaking its continuity, and raised his head. There was an awful smile on his face.
“Cartwright,” he said. “Bring forth the first.”
The crowd parted, and a robed man pushed forward, a stumbling woman at his side. A
chain bound her to his arm, and long, tangled hair hid her face from view. Clary tensed all
over. “Jace, what is this? What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” he said, looking ahead absently. “No one’s going to be hurt. Just changed.
Cartwright, whose name Clary dimly remembered from her time in Idris, put his hand
on his captive’s head and forced her to their knees. Then he bent and took hold of her
hair, jerking her head up. She looked up at Sebastian, blinking in terror and defiance, her
face clearly outlined by the moon.
Clary sucked in her breath. “Amatis.”


Post a Comment