City of Heavenly Fire / Page 36

Page 36


19
 INTO THE SILENT LAND
 
 
 
The Endarkened woman had pale skin and long coppery hair. It might have been pretty once but was now tangled with dirt and twigs. She didn’t appear to care, just placed the plates of food—gruel, soupy and gray-looking, for Magnus and Luke, and a bottle of blood for Raphael—on the floor and turned away from the prisoners.
 
Neither Luke nor Magnus moved toward their food. Magnus felt too sick to have much of an appetite. Besides, he was vaguely suspicious that Sebastian had poisoned the gruel, or drugged it, or both. Raphael, though, seized up the bottle and drank from it hungrily, swallowing until blood ran out of the corners of his mouth.
 
“Now, now, Raphael,” said a voice from the shadows, and Sebastian Morgenstern appeared in the open doorway. The Endarkened woman bowed her head and hurried out past him, shutting the door behind her.
 
He really looked astonishingly like his father had at his age, Magnus thought. Those odd black eyes, entirely black without a hint of brown or hazel, the sort of feature that was beautiful because it was unusual. The same fanatic twitch to his smile. Jace had never had that—he had recklessness, and the anarchic joy of imagined self-annihilation, but he was not a zealot. Which, Magnus thought, was precisely why Valentine had sent him away. To crush your opposition, you needed a hammer, and Jace was a much more delicate weapon than that.
 
“Where’s Jocelyn?” It was Luke, of course, his voice a low growl, his hands in fists at his sides. Magnus wondered what it was like for Luke to look at Sebastian, whether the resemblance to Valentine, who had once been his parabatai, was painful, or whether that loss had faded long ago. “Where is she?”
 
Sebastian laughed, and that was something that was different about him; Valentine had never been a man who laughed easily. Jace’s sarcastic humor seemed to have been born into his blood, a distinctly Herondale trait. “She’s fine,” he said, “just fine, by which I mean she’s still alive. Which is the best you can hope for, really.”
 
“I want to see her,” Luke said.
 
“Hmm,” Sebastian said, as if considering it. “No. I don’t see the advantage in it to me.”
 
“She’s your mother,” said Luke. “You could be kind to her.”
 
“It’s none of your business, dog.” For the first time there was a shadow of youth in Sebastian’s voice, an edge of petulance. “You, with your hands all over my mother, making Clary believe you’re her family—”
 
“I’m more her family than you are,” said Luke, and Magnus shot him a warning look as Sebastian whitened, his fingers twitching toward his belt, where the hilt of the Morgenstern sword was visible.
 
“Don’t,” Magnus said in a low voice, and then, louder, “You know if you touch Luke, Clary will hate you. Jocelyn, too.”
 
Sebastian drew his hand away from his sword with a visible effort. “I said I never intended to harm her.”
 
“No, just hold her hostage,” Magnus said. “You want something—something from the Clave, or something from Clary and Jace. I’d guess the latter; the Clave has never interested you much, but you do care what your sister thinks. She and I are very close, by the way,” he added.
 
“You’re not that close.” Sebastian’s tone was withering. “I’m hardly going to spare the life of everyone she’s ever met. I’m not that crazy.”
 
“You seem very crazy,” said Raphael, who had been silent up until that point.
 
“Raphael,” Magnus said in a warning tone, but Sebastian didn’t seem angry. He was regarding Raphael with a considering look.
 
“Raphael Santiago,” he said. “Leader of the New York clan—or aren’t you? No, it was Camille who held that position, and now the little mad girl. That must be quite frustrating for you. It really seems to me that the Shadowhunters of Manhattan ought to have stepped in before now. Neither Camille nor poor Maureen Brown were fit to be leaders. They broke the Accords—they cared nothing for the Law. But you do. It seems to me that of all the Downworld races, the vampires have been most ill treated by Shadowhunters. One only needs to look at your situation.”
 
“Raphael,” Magnus said again, and tried to lean forward, to catch the vampire’s eye, but Magnus’s chains pulled tight, rattling. He winced at the pain in his wrists.
 
Raphael was sitting back on his heels, his cheeks flushed from his recent feeding. His hair was tousled; he looked as young as he had when Magnus had first met him. “I do not see why you are telling me this,” he said.
 
“You can’t say I’ve mistreated you more than your vampire leaders,” said Sebastian. “I’ve fed you. I haven’t put you in a cage. You know I’ll win; you all know it. And on that day I’ll be happy to make sure you, Raphael, rule all the vampires in New York—in fact, all the vampires in North America. You’re welcome to them. All I need is for you to bring the other Night’s Children to my side. The Fair Folk have already joined with me. The Court always picks the winning side. Shouldn’t you?”
 
Raphael rose to his feet. There was blood on his hands; he frowned down at them. Raphael was nothing if not fastidious. “That seems reasonable,” he said. “I shall join you.”
 
Luke dropped his face into his hands. Through his teeth Magnus said, “Raphael, you have truly lived down to my lowest expectations of you.”
 
“Magnus, it doesn’t matter,” said Luke; he was being protective, Magnus knew. Raphael had already gone to stand by Sebastian’s side. “Let him go. He’s no loss.”
 
Raphael snorted. “No loss, you say,” he said. “I am well quit of you idiots, flopping about this cell, whining about your friends and lovers. You are weak and have always been weak—”
 
“I should have let you walk into the daylight,” Magnus said, and his voice was ice.
 
Raphael flinched—it was barely a movement, but Magnus saw it. Not that it brought him much satisfaction.
 
Sebastian saw the flinch, though, and the look in his dark eyes intensified. From his belt he produced a knife—thin, with a narrow blade. A misericord, a “mercy-killer,” the kind of blade that was meant to pierce through the gaps in armor and deliver a killing stroke.
 
Raphael, seeing the flash of metal, stepped back quickly, but Sebastian only smiled and flipped the blade in his hand. He offered it to Raphael, hilt-first. “Take it,” he said.
 
Raphael reached out a hand, his eyes suspicious. He took the knife and held it, dangling loosely—vampires had little use for weapons. They were their own weapons.
 
“Very good,” said Sebastian. “Now let us seal our agreement in blood. Kill the warlock.”
 
The blade dropped from Raphael’s hand and clattered to the ground. With a look of irritation Sebastian bent and snatched it up, putting it back into the vampire’s hand.
 
“We do not kill with knives,” Raphael said, staring from the blade to Sebastian’s cold expression.
 
“You do now,” said Sebastian. “I won’t have you tearing out his throat; too messy, too easy to get it wrong. Do as I tell you. Go to the warlock and stab him to death. Cut his throat, pierce his heart—however you like.”
 
Raphael turned toward Magnus. Luke started forward; Magnus held up a warning hand. “Luke,” he said. “Don’t.”
 
“Raphael, if you do this, there will be no peace between the pack and the Night’s Children, not now or ever again,” Luke said, his eyes gleaming with a green shine.
 
Sebastian laughed. “You can’t imagine you’ll ever hold sway over a pack again, can you, Lucian Graymark? When I win this war, and I will, I will rule with my sister beside me, and keep you in a cage for her to throw bones to when it amuses her.”
 
Raphael took another step toward Magnus. His eyes were enormous. His throat had been kissed so many times by the crucifix he wore that the scar never left. The blade gleamed in his hand.
 
“If you think Clary would tolerate—” Luke began, and then turned away. He moved toward Raphael, but Sebastian was already in front of him, blocking his way with the Morgenstern blade.
 
With a strange detachment Magnus watched Raphael approach him. Magnus’s heart was thudding in his chest, he was aware of that much, but he did not feel afraid. He had been close to death many times; so many that the idea no longer frightened him. Sometimes he thought some part of him longed for it, for that unknown country, the one place he had never been, that one experience as yet unlived.
 
The tip of the knife touched his neck. Raphael’s hand was shaking; Magnus felt the sting as the blade nicked the hollow of his throat.
 
“That’s right,” said Sebastian with a feral grin. “Cut his throat. Let the blood run out over the floor. He has lived too many years.”
 
Magnus thought of Alec then, of his blue eyes and steady smile. He thought of walking away from Alec in the tunnels under New York. He thought of why he’d done it. Yes, Alec’s willingness to see Camille had angered him, but it was more than that.
 
He remembered Tessa weeping in his arms in Paris, and thinking that he had never known the loss she felt, because he had never loved like she had, and that he was afraid that someday he would, and like Tessa he would lose his mortal love. And that it was better to be the one who died than the one who lived on.
 
He had dismissed that, later, as a morbid fantasy, and had not remembered it again until Alec. It had torn at him to walk away from Alec. But for an immortal to love a mortal, that had been the destruction of gods, and if gods had been destroyed by it, Magnus could hardly hope for better. He looked up at Raphael through his eyelashes. “You remember,” he said in a low voice, so low he doubted Sebastian could hear him. “You know what you owe me.”
 
“You saved my life,” Raphael said, but his voice was numb. “A life I never wanted.”
 
“Show me you’re serious, Santiago,” said Sebastian. “Kill the warlock.”
 
Raphael’s hand tightened on the hilt of the knife. His knuckles were white. He spoke to Magnus. “I have no soul,” he said. “But I made you a promise on my mother’s doorstep, and she was sacred to me.”
 
“Santiago—” Sebastian began.
 
“I was a child then. I am not now.” The knife fell to the floor. Raphael turned and looked at Sebastian, his wide dark eyes very clear. “I cannot,” he said. “I will not. I owe him a debt from many years ago.”
 
Sebastian was very still. “You disappoint me, Raphael,” he said, and sheathed the Morgenstern sword. He stepped forward and picked up the knife at Raphael’s feet, turning it over in his hand. A bit of light sparked along the blade, a singing teardrop of fire. “You disappoint me very much,” he said, and then, too swiftly for the eye to follow, he drove the blade into Raphael’s heart.
 
   
 
 
 
It was freezing inside the hospital morgue. Maia wasn’t shivering, but she could feel it, like the points of needles against her skin.
 
Catarina was standing against the bank of steel compartments that held corpses, which ran along one wall. The yellowish fluorescent lights made her look washed-out, a pale blue blur in green scrubs. She was muttering under her breath in a strange language that made chills run up Maia’s spine.
 
“Where is it?” Bat asked. He was holding a wicked-looking hunting knife in one hand and a large kennel-size cage in the other. He dropped the cage with a clang, his gaze sweeping the room.
 
Two bare steel tables stood in the center of the morgue. As Maia stared, one of them began inching forward. Its wheels dragged along the tiled floor.
 
Catarina pointed. “There,” she said. Her gaze was on the cage; she made a gesture with her fingers and the cage seemed to vibrate and spark. “Under the table.”
 
“You don’t say,” Lily drawled, clicking forward in her heels. She bent down to peer under the table, then leaped back with a shriek. She sailed through the air and landed on one of the countertops, where she perched like a bat, her black hair tumbling down out of its ponytail. “It’s hideous,” she said.
 
“It’s a demon,” said Catarina. The table had stopped moving. “Probably a Dantalion or some other ghoul type. They feed on the dead.”
 
“Oh, for goodness’ sake,” said Maia, taking a step forward; before she reached the table, Bat kicked it with a booted foot. It went over with a clang, revealing the creature underneath.
 
Lily had been right: it was hideous. It was about the size of a large dog, but it resembled a ball of grayish, pulsing intestines, studded with malformed kidneys and nodes of pus and blood. A single yellow, weeping eye glared out from among the jumble of organs.
 
“Ew,” said Bat.
 
“I told you,” said Lily, just as a long rope of intestine shot out from the demon and wrapped around Bat’s ankle, jerking hard. He fell to the floor with a wince-inducing crash.
 
“Bat!” Maia cried, but before she needed to move, he whipped around and slashed with his knife through the pulsing matter that held him. He scrambled back as demon ichor sprayed across the floor.
 
“So gross,” Lily said. She was seated on the counter now, holding up an oblong metal object—her phone—as if it would ward the demon off.
 
Bat scrambled to his feet as the demon skittered toward Maia. She kicked out at it, and it rolled back with an angry squishing noise. Bat looked down at his knife. The metal was melting, dissolved by the ichor. He dropped it with a noise of disgust.
 
“Weapons,” he said, casting around. “I need a weapon—”
 
Maia seized a scalpel off a nearby table and flung it. It stuck into the creature with a slimy noise. The demon squealed. A moment later the scalpel shot back out of it as if it had been ejected from a particularly powerful toaster. It skidded along the floor, melting and sizzling.
 
“Ordinary weapons don’t work on them!” Catarina stepped forward, raising her right hand. It was surrounded by blue flame. “Only runed blades—”
 
“Then let’s get some of those!” Bat gasped, backing away as the pulsing creature scooted toward him.
 
“Only Shadowhunters can use them!” Catarina cried, and a bolt of blue fire shot from her hand. It struck the creature squarely, sending it rolling over and over. Bat seized hold of the cage and banged it down in front of the demon, yanking up the hatch just as the demon rolled inside.
 
Maia slammed the hatch down and threw the bolt, locking the demon inside. They all backed away, staring in horror as it hissed and threw itself around the confines of its warlock-strengthened prison. All except Lily, who was still pointing her phone at it.
 
“Are you filming this?” Maia demanded.
 
“Maybe,” Lily said.
 
Catarina drew her sleeve across her brow. “Thanks for the help,” she said. “Even warlock magic can’t kill Dantalions; they’re tough.”
 
“Why are you filming this?” Maia said to Lily.
 
The vampire girl shrugged. “When the cat is away, the mice will play. . . . Always good to remind the mice that in this case, when the cat is away, the mice will all be eaten by demons. I’m going to send this video file to every one of our Downworld contacts around the world. Just a reminder that there are demons we need Shadowhunters to destroy. That’s why they exist.”
 
“They won’t exist for long,” hissed the Dantalion demon. Bat yelled and jumped back another foot. Maia didn’t blame him. The thing’s mouth had opened. It looked like a slick black tunnel lined with teeth. “Tomorrow night is the attack. Tomorrow night is the war.”
 
“What war?” Catarina demanded. “Tell us, creature, or when I get you home, I will set to torturing you in every way I can devise. . . .”
 
“Sebastian Morgenstern,” said the demon. “Tomorrow night he attacks Alicante. Tomorrow night the Shadowhunters cease to be.”

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