City of Heavenly Fire / Page 11

Page 11


Cold fingers against Simon’s temples woke him up. “Open your eyes, Daylighter,” said an impatient voice. “We do not have all day.”
 
Simon sat up with such alacrity that the person opposite him jerked back with a hiss. Simon stared. He was still surrounded by the bars of Maureen’s cage, still inside the rotting room in the Hotel Dumort. Across from him was Raphael. He wore a buttoned white shirt and jeans, the glint of gold visible at his throat. Still—Simon had only ever seen him look neat and pressed, as if he were going to a business meeting. Now his dark hair was mussed, his white shirt ripped and stained with dirt.
 
“Good morning, Daylighter,” Raphael said.
 
“What are you doing here?” Simon snapped. He felt filthy and sick and angry. And he was still wearing a puffy shirt. “Is it actually morning?”
 
“You were asleep, now you are awake—it’s morning.” Raphael seemed obscenely cheerful. “As for what I am doing here: I am here for you, of course.”
 
Simon leaned back against the bars of the cage. “What do you mean? And how did you get in here, anyway?”
 
Raphael looked at him pityingly. “The cage unlocks from the outside. It was easy enough for me to get in.”
 
“So is this just loneliness and a desire for bro-type companionship, or what?” Simon inquired. “The last time I saw you, you asked me to be your bodyguard, and when I said no, you strongly implied that if I ever lost the Mark of Cain, you would kill me.”
 
Raphael smiled at him.
 
“So is this the killing part?” Simon asked. “I have to say, it’s not that subtle. You’ll probably get caught.”
 
“Yes,” Raphael mused. “Maureen would be very unhappy at your demise. I once broached the mere topic of selling you to unscrupulous warlocks, and she was not amused. It was unfortunate. With its healing powers, Daylighter blood brings a high price.” He sighed. “It would have been quite an opportunity. Alas, Maureen is too foolish to see things from my point of view. She would rather keep you here dressed up like a doll. But then, she is insane.”
 
“Are you supposed to say that sort of thing about your vampire queen?”
 
“There was a time I wanted you dead, Daylighter,” Raphael replied conversationally, as if he were telling Simon that there had once been a time when he’d considered buying Simon a box of chocolates. “But I have a greater enemy. You and I, we are on the same side.”
 
The bars of the cage were pressing uncomfortably into Simon’s back. He shifted. “Maureen?” he guessed. “You always wanted to be the vampire leader, and now she’s taken your place.”
 
Raphael curled his lip in a snarl. “You think this is only a power play?” he said. “You do not understand. Before Maureen was Turned, she was terrified and tortured to the point of madness. When she rose, she clawed her way free of her coffin. There was no one to teach her. No one to give her first blood. Like I did for you.”
 
Simon stared. He remembered the graveyard suddenly, coming up out of the earth into the cold of the air and the dirt, and the hunger, tearing hunger, and Raphael tossing him a bag full of blood. He had never thought of it as a favor or a service, but he would have torn into any living creature he had encountered if he hadn’t had that first meal. He almost had torn into Clary. It was Raphael who had stopped that from happening.
 
It was Raphael who had carried Simon from the Dumort to the Institute; had laid him, bleeding, down on the front steps when they could go no farther; and had explained to Simon’s friends what had happened. Simon supposed Raphael could have tried to hide it, could have lied to the Nephilim, but he had confessed and taken the consequences.
 
Raphael had never been particularly nice to Simon, but in his own way he had a strange sort of honor.
 
“I made you,” Raphael said. “My blood, in your veins, made you a vampire.”
 
“You’ve always said I was a terrible vampire,” Simon pointed out.
 
“I do not expect your gratitude,” Raphael said. “You have never wanted to be what you are. Neither did Maureen, one can guess. She was made insane by her Turning, and she is still insane. She murders without a thought. She does not consider the dangers of exposing us to the human world by too careless a slaughter. She does not think that perhaps, if vampires killed without need or consideration, one day there would be no more food.”
 
“Humans,” corrected Simon. “There would be no more humans.”
 
“You are a terrible vampire,” Raphael said. “But in this we are aligned. You desire to protect humans. I desire to protect vampires. Our goal is one and the same.”
 
“So kill her,” said Simon. “Kill Maureen and take over the clan.”
 
“I cannot.” Raphael looked grim. “The other children of the clan love her. They do not see the long road, the darkness on the horizon. They see only having the freedom to kill and consume at will. Not to bend to the Accords, not to follow an outside Law. She has given them all the freedom in the world, and they will end themselves with it.” His tone was bitter.
 
“You actually care what happens to the clan,” Simon said, surprised. “You would make a pretty good leader.”
 
Raphael glared at him.
 
“Though I don’t know how you’d look in a bone tiara,” Simon added. “Look, I understand what you’re saying, but how can I help you? In case you didn’t notice, I’m trapped in a cage. If you free me, you’ll get caught. And if I leave, Maureen will find me.”
 
“Not in Alicante, she will not,” said Raphael.
 
“Alicante?” Simon stared. “You mean—capital of Idris, Alicante?”
 
“You are not very smart,” Raphael said. “Yes, that is the Alicante I mean.” At Simon’s stunned expression he smiled thinly. “There is a vampire representative to the Council. Anselm Nightshade. A retiring sort, the leader of the Los Angeles clan, but a man who knows certain . . . friends of mine. Warlocks.”
 
“Magnus?” said Simon in surprise. Raphael and Magnus were both immortals, both residents of New York and fairly high-ranking representatives of their Downworlder branches. And yet he had never really considered how they might know each other, or how well.
 
Raphael ignored Simon’s question. “Nightshade has agreed to send me as the representative in his place, though Maureen does not know it. So I shall go to Alicante, and sit on the Council for their great meeting, but I require you to come with me.”
 
“Why?”
 
“They do not trust me, the Shadowhunters,” said Raphael simply. “But they trust you. Especially the New York Nephilim. Look at you. You wear Isabelle Lightwood’s necklace. They know you are more like another Shadowhunter than you are like the Night’s Children. They will believe what you say if you tell them that Maureen has broken the Accords and must be stopped.”
 
“Right,” Simon said. “They trust me.” Raphael looked at him with wide, guileless eyes. “And this has nothing to do with your not wanting the clan to find out you turned Maureen in, because they like her, and then they’d turn on you like weasels.”
 
“You know the children of the Inquisitor,” he said. “You can testify directly to him.”
 
“Sure,” Simon said. “No one in the clan will care that I ratted on their queen and got her killed. I’m sure my life will be fantastic when I get back.”
 
Raphael shrugged. “I do have supporters here,” he said. “Someone had to let me into this room. Once Maureen is taken care of, it is likely we can return to New York with few negative consequences.”
 
“Few negative consequences.” Simon snorted. “You’re a comfort.”
 
“You are in danger anyway, here,” said Raphael. “If you did not have your werewolf protector, or your Shadowhunters, you would have met eternal death many times over. If you do not wish to come with me to Alicante, I will be happy to leave you here in this cage, and you may be Maureen’s plaything. Or you can join your friends in the Glass City. Catarina Loss is waiting downstairs to make a Portal for us. It is your choice.”
 
Raphael was leaning back, one leg bent, his hand dangling loosely over his knee as if he were relaxing in the park. Behind him, through the bars of the cage, Simon could see the outline of another vampire standing by the door, a dark-haired girl, her features in shadow. The one who had let Raphael in, he guessed. He thought of Jordan. Your werewolf protector. But this, this clash of clans and loyalties, and above all Maureen’s murderous desire for blood and death, was too much to lay at Jordan’s door.
 
“Not much of a choice, is it?” Simon said.
 
Raphael smiled. “No, Daylighter. Not much at all.”
 
   
 
 
 
The last time Clary had been in the Hall of Accords, it had been nearly destroyed—its crystal roof shattered, its marble floor cracked, its central fountain dry.
 
She had to admit the Shadowhunters had done an impressive job of patching it up since then. The roof was back in one piece, the marble floor clean and smooth and veined with gold. The arches soared overhead, the light that shone down through the roof illuminating the runes carved into them. The central fountain with its mermaid statue glimmered under the late afternoon sunlight, which turned the water to bronze.
 
“When you get your first real weapon, it’s traditional to come here and bless the blade in the fountain waters,” said Jace. “Shadowhunters have been doing it for generations.” He moved forward, under the dull gold light, to the fountain’s edge. Clary remembered dreaming of dancing with him here. He looked back over his shoulder and gestured for her to join him. “Come here.”
 
Clary moved up to stand beside him. The central statue in the fountain, the mermaid, had scales made of overlapping bronze and copper gone green with verdigris. The mermaid held a pitcher, from which water poured, and her face was set in a warrior’s grin.
 
“Put the blade in the fountain and repeat after me,” said Jace. “Let the waters of this fountain wash this blade clean. Consecrate it to my use alone. Let me use it only in the aid of just causes. Let me wield it in righteousness. Let it guide me to be a worthy warrior of Idris. And let it protect me that I may return to this fountain to bless its metal anew. In Raziel’s name.”
 
Clary slipped the blade into the water and repeated the words after him. The water rippled and shimmered around the sword, and she was reminded of another fountain, in another place, and Sebastian sitting behind her, looking at the distorted image of her own face. You have a dark heart in you, Valentine’s daughter.
 
“Good,” Jace said. She felt his hand on her wrist; the water of the fountain splashed up, making his skin cool and wet where it touched hers. He drew back her hand with the sword in it, and released her so that she could lift the blade up. The sun was even farther down now, but there was enough of it to strike sparks off the obsidian stars along the central ridge. “Now give the sword its name.”
 
“Heosphoros,” she said, sliding it back into its scabbard and tucking the scabbard into her belt. “The dawn-bringer.”
 
He huffed out a laugh, and bent to feather a kiss against the corner of her mouth. “I should get you home—” He straightened up.
 
“You’ve been thinking about him,” she said.
 
“You might have to be more specific,” Jace said, though she suspected he knew what she meant.
 
“Sebastian,” she said. “I mean, more than usual. And something’s bothering you. What is it?”
 
“What isn’t?” He started to walk away from her, across the marble floor toward the great double doors of the Hall, which were propped open. She followed him, stepped out onto the wide ledge above the staircase that led down to Angel Square. The sky was darkening to cobalt, the color of sea glass.
 
“Don’t,” Clary said. “Don’t shut yourself off.”
 
“I wasn’t going to.” He exhaled harshly. “It just isn’t anything new. Yeah, I think about him. I think about him all the time. I wish I didn’t. I can’t explain it, not to anyone but you, because you were there. It was like I was him, and now, when you tell me things like that he left that box in Amatis’s house, I know exactly why. And I hate that I know it.”
 
“Jace—”
 
“Don’t tell me I’m not like him,” he said. “I am. Raised by the same father—we both have the benefits of Valentine’s special education. We speak the same languages. We learned the same style of fighting. We were taught the same morals. Had the same pets. It changed, of course; it all changed when I turned ten, but the foundations of your childhood, they stay with you. Sometimes I wonder if all of this is my fault.”
 
That jolted Clary. “You can’t be serious. Nothing you did when you were with Sebastian was your choice—”
 
“I liked it,” he said, and there was a rough undercurrent to his voice, as if the fact rasped at him like sandpaper. “He’s brilliant, Sebastian, but there are holes in his thinking, places where he doesn’t know—I helped him with that. We would sit there and we would talk about how to burn the world down, and it was exciting. I wanted it. Wipe it all clean, start again, a holocaust of fire and blood, and afterward, a shining city on a hill.”
 
“He made you think you wanted those things,” Clary said, but her voice shook slightly. You have a dark heart in you, Valentine’s daughter. “He made you give him what he wanted.”
 
“I liked giving it,” said Jace. “Why do you think I could so easily think of ways to break and destroy, but I now can’t think of any way to fix it? I mean, what does that qualify me for, exactly? A job in Hell’s army? I could be a general, like Asmodeus or Sammael.”
 
“Jace—”
 
“They were the brightest servants of God, once,” Jace said. “That’s what happens when you fall. Everything that was bright about you becomes dark. As brilliant as you once were, that’s how evil you become. It’s a long way to fall.”
 
“You haven’t fallen.”
 
“Not yet,” he said, and then the sky exploded in spangles of red and gold. For a dizzy moment Clary remembered the fireworks that had painted the sky the night they had celebrated in Angel Square. Now she stepped back, trying to get a better view.
 
But this was no celebration. As her eyes adjusted to the brightness, she saw that the light was the demon towers. Each had lit like a torch, burning red and gold against the sky.
 
Jace had gone white. “The battle lights,” he said. “We have to get to the Gard.” He reached for her hand and began to tug her down the stairs.
 
Clary protested. “But my mother. Isabelle, Alec—”
 
“They’ll all be on their way to the Gard too.” They had reached the foot of the steps. Angel Square was filling with people flinging open the doors of their houses, emptying into the streets, all of them running toward the lighted path that ran up the side of the hill and to the Gard at the top. “That’s what the red-and-gold signal means. ‘Get to the Gard.’ That’s what they’ll expect us to do—” He ducked away from a Shadowhunter who was running past them while strapping on an arm guard. “What’s going on?” Jace shouted after him. “Why the alarm?”
 
“There’s been another attack!” an older man in worn gear shouted back over his shoulder.
 
“Another Institute?” Clary called. They were back at a shop-lined street she remembered visiting with Luke before; they were running uphill, but she didn’t feel breathless. Silently she thanked the past few months of training.
 
The man with the arm guard turned around and jogged uphill backward. “We don’t know yet. The attack’s ongoing.”
 
He spun back around and redoubled his speed, dashing up the curving street toward the bottom of the Gard path. Clary concentrated on not crashing into anyone in the crowd. They were a moving, jostling flood of people. She kept her hand in Jace’s as they ran, her new sword tapping against the outside of her leg as she went, as if to remind her it was there—there and ready to be used.
 
The path that led up to the Gard was steep, packed dirt. Clary tried to run carefully—she was wearing boots and jeans, her gear jacket zipped over the top, but it wasn’t quite as good as being all in gear. A pebble had worked its way into her left boot somehow and was stabbing into the pad of her foot by the time they reached the front gate of the Gard and slowed, staring.
 
The gates were thrown open. Within them was a wide courtyard, grassy in the summers, though it was bare now, surrounded by the interior walls of the Gard. Against one wall was a massive, swirling square of whirling air and emptiness.
 
A Portal. Within it, Clary thought she could glimpse hints of black and green and burning white, even a patch of sky dotted with stars—
 
Robert Lightwood loomed up in front of them, blocking their way; Jace nearly crashed into him, and let go of Clary’s hand, righting himself. The wind from the Portal was cold and powerful, blowing through the fabric of Clary’s gear jacket, lifting her hair. “What’s going on?” Jace demanded tersely. “Is this about the London attack? I thought that was rebuffed.”
 
Robert shook his head, his expression grim. “It seems that Sebastian, having been foiled in London, has turned his attention elsewhere.”
 
“Where—?” Clary began.
 
“The Adamant Citadel is besieged!” It was Jia Penhallow’s voice, rising over the shouts of the crowd. She had moved to stand by the Portal; the swirl of air within and without it made her cloak flap open like the wings of a great black bird. “We go to the aid of the Iron Sisters! Shadowhunters who are armed and ready, please report to me!”
 
The courtyard was full of Nephilim, though not as many as Clary had thought at first. It had seemed like a flood as they’d bolted up the hill to the Gard, but she saw now that it was more like a group of forty to fifty warriors. Some were in gear, some in street clothes. Not all were armed. Nephilim in the service of the Gard were darting back and forth to the open door of the armory, adding weapons to a pile of swords, seraph blades, axes, and maces heaped by the side of the Portal.
 
“Let us go through,” Jace said to Robert. All in gear and wrapped in the gray of the Inquisitor, Robert Lightwood reminded Clary of the hard, rocky side of a cliff: craggy and unmovable.
 
Robert shook his head. “There’s no need,” he said. “Sebastian has attempted a sneak attack. He has only twenty or thirty Endarkened warriors with him. There are enough warriors for the job without us sending our children through.”
 
“I am not a child,” Jace said savagely. Clary wondered what Robert thought when he looked at the boy he had adopted—if Robert saw Jace’s father in Jace’s face, or still searched for remnants of Michael Wayland that weren’t there. Jace scanned Robert Lightwood’s expression, suspicion darkening his gold eyes. “What are you doing? There’s something you don’t want me to know.”
 
Robert’s face set into hard lines. At that moment a blonde woman in gear brushed by Clary, speaking excitedly to her companion: “. . . told us that we can try to capture the Endarkened, bring them back here. See if they can be cured. Which means maybe they can save Jason.”
 
Clary looked daggers at Robert. “You’re not. You’re not letting people whose relatives were taken in the attacks go through. You’re not telling them the Endarkened can be saved.”
 
Robert gave her a grim look. “We don’t know that they can’t be.”
 
“We know,” Clary said. “They can’t be saved! They’re not who they were! They’re not human. But when these soldiers see the faces of people they know, they’ll hesitate, they’ll want it to not be true—”
 
“And they’ll be slaughtered,” Jace said bleakly. “Robert. You have to stop this.”
 
Robert was shaking his head. “This is the will of the Clave. This is what they want to see done.”
 
“Then why even send them through?” Jace demanded. “Why not just stay here and stab fifty of our own people to death? Save the time?”
 
“Don’t you dare joke,” Robert snapped.
 
“I wasn’t joking—”
 
“And don’t you tell me fifty Nephilim can’t defeat twenty Endarkened warriors.” Shadowhunters were beginning to go through the Portal, guided by Jia. Clary felt a tickle of panic run down her spine. Jia was letting through only those who were completely outfitted in gear, but quite a few were very young or very old, and many had come unarmed and were simply seizing up weapons from the pile provided by the armory, before passing through.
 
“Sebastian’s expecting exactly this response,” Jace said desperately. “If he’s come with only twenty warriors, then there’s a reason, and he’ll have backup—”
 
“He can’t have backup!” Robert’s voice rose. “You cannot open a Portal to the Adamant Citadel unless the Iron Sisters allow it. They’re allowing us, but Sebastian must have come over land. Sebastian didn’t expect us to be watching for him at the Citadel. He knows we know he can’t be tracked; he doubtless thought we were watching only Institutes. This is a gift—”
 
“Sebastian doesn’t give gifts!” Jace shouted. “You’re being blind!”
 
“We are not blind!” Robert roared. “You may be frightened of him, Jace, but he is just a boy; he is not the most brilliant military mind ever to exist! He fought you at the Burren, and he lost!”
 
Robert turned and wheeled away, striding toward Jia. Jace looked as if he had been slapped. Clary doubted anyone had ever accused him of being frightened before.
 
He turned to look at her. The movement of Shadowhunters toward the Portal had slowed; Jia was waving people away. Jace touched the shortsword at Clary’s hip. “I’m going through,” he said.
 
“They won’t let you,” Clary said.
 
“They don’t need to let me.” Under the red-and-gold lights of the towers, Jace’s face looked as if it had been cut out of marble. Behind him Clary could see more Shadowhunters coming up the hill. They were chatting among themselves as if this were any ordinary fight, any situation that could be handled by sending fifty or so Nephilim to the place of attack. They hadn’t been at the Burren. They hadn’t seen. They didn’t know. Clary met Jace’s eyes with hers.
 
She could see the lines of tension on his face, deepening the angles of his cheekbones, setting his jaw. “The question is,” he said, “is there any chance you’d agree to stay here?”
 
“You know there’s not,” she said.
 
He took a shuddering breath. “Right. Clary, this could be dangerous, really dangerous—” She could hear people murmuring around them, excited voices, rising against the night on puffs of exhaled air, people chattering that the Consul and Council had been meeting to discuss the London attack just as Sebastian popped into sudden existence on the tracking map, that he had only been there a short time and with few reinforcements, that they had a real chance to stop him, that he had been foiled in London and would be again—
 
“I love you,” she said. “But don’t try to stop me.”
 
Jace reached to take her hand. “All right,” he said. “Then we run, together. Toward the Portal.”
 
“We run,” she agreed, and they did.

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