City of Glass / Page 24

Page 24



“Valentine,” Jocelyn said with a smile, “enough about politics, please.” She reached up and twined her arms around Valentine’s neck, her expression full of love—and his was as well, but there was something else in it, something that sent a shiver down Clary’s spine….

Valentine knelt in the center of a circle of trees. There was a bright moon overhead, illuminating the black pentagram that had been scrawled into the scraped earth of the clearing. The branches of trees made a thick net overhead; where they extended above the edge of the pentagram, their leaves curled and turned black. In the center of the five-pointed star sat a woman with long, shining hair; her shape was slim and lovely, her face hidden in shadow, her arms bare and white. Her left hand was extended in front of her, and as she opened her fingers, Clary could see that there was a long slash across her palm, dripping a slow stream of blood into a silver cup that rested on the pentagram’s edge. The blood looked black in the moonlight, or perhaps it was black.

“The child born with this blood in him,” she said, and her voice was soft and lovely, “will exceed in power the Greater Demons of the abysses between the worlds. He will be more mighty than the Asmodei, stronger than the shedim of the storms. If he is properly trained, there is nothing he will not be able to do. Though I warn you,” she added, “it will burn out his humanity, as poison burns the life from the blood.”

“My thanks to you, Lady of Edom,” said Valentine, and as he reached to take the cup of blood, the woman lifted her face, and Clary saw that though she was otherwise beautiful, her eyes were hollow black holes from which curled waving black tentacles, like feelers probing the air. Clary stifled a scream—

The night, the forest, vanished. Jocelyn stood facing someone Clary couldn’t see. She was no longer pregnant, and her bright hair straggled around her stricken, despairing face. “I can’t stay with him, Ragnor,” she said. “Not for another day. I read his book. Do you know what he did to Jonathan? I didn’t think even Valentine could do that.” Her shoulders shook. “He used demon blood—Jonathan’s not a baby anymore. He isn’t even human; he’s a monster—”

She vanished. Valentine was pacing restlessly around the circle of runes, a seraph blade shining in his hand. “Why won’t you speak?” he muttered. “Why won’t you give me what I want?” He drove down with the knife, and the angel writhed as golden liquid poured from its wound like spilled sunlight. “If you won’t give me answers,” Valentine hissed, “you can give me your blood. It will do me and mine more good than it will you.”

Now they were in the Wayland library. Sunlight shone through the diamond-paned windows, flooding the room with blue and green. Voices came from another room: the sounds of laughter and chatting, a party going on. Jocelyn knelt by the bookshelf, glancing from side to side. She drew a thick book from her pocket and slipped it onto the shelf….

And she was gone. The scene showed a cellar, the same cellar that Clary knew she was standing in right now. The same scrawled pentagram scarred the floor, and within the center of the star lay the angel. Valentine stood by, once again with a burning seraph blade in his hand. He looked years older now, no longer a young man. “Ithuriel,” he said. “We are old friends now, aren’t we? I could have left you buried alive under those ruins, but no, I brought you here with me. All these years I’ve kept you close, hoping one day you would tell me what I wanted—needed—to know.” He came closer, holding the blade out, its blaze lighting the runic barrier to a shimmer. “When I summoned you, I dreamed that you would tell me why. Why Raziel created us, his race of Shadowhunters, yet did not give us the powers Downworlders have—the speed of the wolves, the immortality of the Fair Folk, the magic of warlocks, even the endurance of vampires. He left us naked before the hosts of hell but for these painted lines on our skin. Why should their powers be greater than ours? Why can’t we share in what they have? How is that just?”

Within its imprisoning star the angel sat silent as a marble statue, unmoving, its wings folded. Its eyes expressed nothing beyond a terrible silent sorrow.

Valentine’s mouth twisted. “Very well. Keep your silence. I will have my chance.” Valentine lifted the blade. “I have the Mortal Cup, Ithuriel, and soon I shall have the Sword—but without the Mirror I cannot begin the summoning. The Mirror is all I need. Tell me where it is. Tell me where it is, Ithuriel, and I will let you die.”

The scene broke apart in fragments, and as her vision faded, Clary caught glimpses of images now familiar to her from her own nightmares—angels with wings both white and black; sheets of mirrored water, gold and blood; and Jace, turning away from her, always turning away. Clary reached out for him, and for the first time the angel’s voice spoke in her head in words that she could understand.

These are not the first dreams I have ever showed you.

The image of a rune burst behind her eyes, like fireworks—not a rune she had ever seen before; it was as strong, simple, and straightforward as a tied knot. It was gone in a breath as well, and as it vanished, the angel’s singing ceased. Clary was back in her own body, reeling on her feet in the filthy and reeking room. The angel was silent, frozen, wings folded, a grieving effigy.

Clary let out her breath in a sob. “Ithuriel.” She reached her hands out to the angel, knowing she couldn’t pass the runes, her heart aching. For years the angel had been down here, sitting silent and alone in the blackness, chained and starving but unable to die….

Jace was beside her. She could see from his stricken face that he’d seen everything she had. He looked down at the seraph blade in his hand and then back at the angel. Its blind face was turned toward them in silent supplication.

Jace took a step forward, and then another. His eyes were fixed on the angel, and it was as if, Clary thought, there were some silent communication passing between them, some speech she couldn’t hear. Jace’s eyes were bright as gold disks, full of reflected light.

“Ithuriel,” he whispered.

The blade in his hand blazed up like a torch. Its glow was blinding. The angel raised its face, as if the light were visible to its blind eyes. It reached out its hands, the chains that bound its wrists rattling like harsh music.

Jace turned to her. “Clary,” he said. “The runes.”

The runes. For a moment she stared at him, puzzled, but his eyes urged her onward. She handed Jace the witchlight, took his stele from her pocket, and knelt down by the scrawled runes. They looked as if they’d been gouged into the stone with something sharp.

She glanced up at Jace. His expression startled her, the blaze in his eyes—they were full of faith in her, of confidence in her abilities. With the tip of the stele she traced several lines into the floor, changing the runes of binding to runes of release, imprisonment to openness. They flared up as she traced them, as if she were dragging a match tip across sulphur.

Done, she rose to her feet. The runes shimmered before her. Abruptly Jace moved to stand beside her. The witchlight stone was gone, the only illumination coming from the seraph blade that he’d named for the angel, blazing in his hand. He stretched it out, and this time his hand passed through the barrier of the runes as if there were nothing there.

The angel reached its hands up and took the blade from him. It shut its blind eyes, and Clary thought for a moment that it smiled. It turned the blade in its grasp until the sharp tip rested just below its breastbone. Clary gave a little gasp and moved forward, but Jace grabbed her arm, his grip like iron, and yanked her backward—just as the angel drove the blade home.

The angel’s head fell back, its hands dropping from the hilt, which protruded from just where its heart would be—if angels had hearts; Clary didn’t know. Flames burst from the wound, spreading outward from the blade. The angel’s body shimmered into white flame, the chains on its wrists burning scarlet, like iron left too long in a fire. Clary thought of medieval paintings of saints consumed in the blaze of holy ecstasy—and the angel’s wings flew wide and white before they, too, caught and blazed up, a lattice of shimmering fire.

Clary could no longer watch. She turned and buried her face in Jace’s shoulder. His arm came around her, his grip tight and hard. “It’s all right,” he said into her hair, “it’s all right,” but the air was full of smoke and the ground felt like it was rocking under her feet. It was only when Jace stumbled that she realized it wasn’t shock: The ground was moving. She let go of Jace and staggered; the stones underfoot were grinding together, and a thin rain of dirt was sifting down from the ceiling. The angel was a pillar of smoke; the runes around it glowed painfully bright. Clary stared at them, decoding their meaning, and then looked wildly at Jace. “The manor—it was tied to Ithuriel. If the angel dies, the manor—”

She didn’t finish her sentence. He had already seized her hand and was running for the stairs, pulling her along after him. The stairs themselves were surging and buckling; Clary fell, banging her knee painfully on a step, but Jace’s grip on her arm didn’t loosen. She raced on, ignoring the pain in her leg, her lungs full of choking dust.

They reached the top of the steps and exploded out into the library. Behind them Clary could hear the soft roar as the rest of the stairs collapsed. It wasn’t much better here; the room was shuddering, books tumbling from their shelves. A statue lay where it had tipped over, in a pile of jagged shards. Jace let go of Clary’s hand, seized up a chair, and, before she could ask him what he meant to do, threw it at the stained-glass window.

It sailed through in a waterfall of broken glass. Jace turned and held his hand out to her. Behind him, through the jagged frame that remained, she could see a moonlight-saturated stretch of grass and a line of treetops in the distance. They seemed a long way down. I can’t jump that far, she thought, and was about to shake her head at Jace when she saw his eyes widen, his mouth shaping a warning. One of the heavy marble busts that lined the higher shelves had slid free and was falling toward her; she ducked out of its way, and it hit the floor inches from where she’d been standing, leaving a sizeable dent in the floor.

A second later Jace’s arms were around her and he was lifting her off her feet. She was too surprised to struggle as he carried her over to the broken window and dumped her unceremoniously out of it.

She hit a grassy rise just below the window and tumbled down its steep incline, gaining speed until she fetched up against a hillock with enough force to knock the breath out of her. She sat up, shaking grass out of her hair. A second later Jace came to a stop next to her; unlike her, he rolled immediately into a crouch, staring up the hill at the manor house.

Clary turned to look where he was looking, but he’d already grabbed her, shoving her down into the depression between the two hills. Later she’d find dark bruises on her upper arms where he’d held her; now she just gasped in surprise as he knocked her down and rolled on top of her, shielding her with his body as a huge roar went up. It sounded like the earth shattering apart, like a volcano erupting. A blast of white dust shot into the sky. Clary heard a sharp pattering noise all around her. For a bewildered moment she thought it had started to rain—then she realized it was rubble and dirt and broken glass: the detritus of the shattered manor being flung down around them like deadly hail.

Jace pressed her harder into the ground, his body flat against hers, his heartbeat nearly as loud in her ears as the sound of the manor’s subsiding ruins.

The roar of the collapse faded slowly, like smoke dissipating into the air. It was replaced by the loud chirruping of startled birds; Clary could see them over Jace’s shoulder, circling curiously against the dark sky.

“Jace,” she said softly. “I think I dropped your stele somewhere.”

He drew back slightly, propping himself on his elbows, and looked down at her. Even in the darkness she could see herself reflected in his eyes; his face was streaked with soot and dirt, the collar of his shirt torn. “That’s all right. As long as you’re not hurt.”

“I’m fine.” Without thinking, she reached up, her fingers brushing lightly through his hair. She felt him tense, his eyes darkening.

“There was grass in your hair,” she said. Her mouth was dry; adrenaline sang through her veins. Everything that had just happened—the angel, the shattering manor—seemed less real than what she saw in Jace’s eyes.

“You shouldn’t touch me,” he said.

Her hand froze where it was, her palm against his cheek. “Why not?”

“You know why,” he said, and shifted away from her, rolling onto his back. “You saw what I saw, didn’t you? The past, the angel. Our parents.”

It was the first time, she thought, that he’d called them that. Our parents. She turned onto her side, wanting to reach out to him but not sure if she should. He was staring blindly up at the sky. “I saw.”

“You know what I am.” The words breathed out in an anguished whisper. “I’m part demon, Clary. Part demon. You understood that much, didn’t you?” His eyes bored into her like drills. “You saw what Valentine was trying to do. He used demon blood—used it on me before I was even born. I’m part monster. Part everything I’ve tried so hard to burn out, to destroy.”

Clary pushed away the memory of Valentine’s voice saying, She told me that I had turned her first child into a monster. “But warlocks are part demon. Like Magnus. It doesn’t make them evil—”

“Not part Greater Demon. You heard what the demon woman said.”

It will burn out his humanity, as poison burns the life from the blood. Clary’s voice trembled. “It’s not true. It can’t be. It doesn’t make sense—”


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