City of Glass / Page 29

Page 29



Jace hurried them across the courtyard—Clary could tell he didn’t like the open, unprotected space much—and down one of the streets that led off it. There was more wreckage here. Shop windows had been smashed and their contents looted and strewn around the street. There was a smell in the air too—a rancid, thick, garbage smell. Clary knew that smell. It meant demons.

“This way,” Jace hissed. They ducked down another, narrower street. A fire was burning in an upper floor of one of the houses lining the road, though neither of the buildings on either side of it seemed to have been touched. Clary was oddly reminded of photos she’d seen of the Blitz in London, where destruction had rained down haphazardly from the sky.

Looking up, she saw that the fortress above the city was wreathed in a funnel of black smoke. “The Gard.”

“I told you, they’ll have evacuated—” Jace broke off as they came out from the narrow street into a larger thoroughfare. There were bodies in the road here, several of them. Some were small bodies. Children. Jace ran forward, Clary following more hesitantly. There were three, she saw as they got closer—none of them, she thought with guilty relief, old enough to be Max. Beside them was the corpse of an older man, his arms still thrown wide as if he’d been protecting the children with his own body.

Jace’s expression was hard. “Clary—turn around. Slowly.”

Clary turned. Just behind her was a broken shop window. There had been cakes in the display at some point—a tower of them covered in bright icing. They were scattered on the ground now among the smashed glass, and there was blood on the cobblestones too, mixing with the icing in long pinkish streaks. But that wasn’t what had put the note of warning into Jace’s voice. Something was crawling out of the window—something formless and huge and slimy. Something equipped with a double row of teeth running the length of its oblong body, which was smeared with icing and dusted with broken glass like a layer of glittering sugar.

The demon flopped down out of the window onto the cobblestones and began to slither toward them. Something about its oozing, boneless motion made bile rise up in the back of Clary’s throat. She backed up, almost knocking into Jace.

“It’s a Behemoth demon,” he said, staring at the slithering thing in front of them. “They eat everything.”

“Do they eat …?”

“People? Yes,” Jace said. “Get behind me.”

She took a few steps back to stand behind him, her eyes on the Behemoth. There was something about it that repulsed her even more than the demons she’d encountered before. It looked like a blind slug with teeth, and the way it oozed … But at least it didn’t move fast. Jace shouldn’t have much trouble killing it.

As if spurred on by her thought, Jace darted forward, slashing down with his blazing seraph blade. It sank into the Behemoth’s back with a sound like overripe fruit being stepped on. The demon seemed to spasm, then shudder and re-form, suddenly several feet away from where it had been before.

Jace drew Jahoel back. “I was afraid of that,” he muttered. “It’s only semi-corporeal. Hard to kill.”

“Then don’t.” Clary tugged at his sleeve. “At least it doesn’t move fast. Let’s get out of here.”

Jace let her pull him back reluctantly. They turned to run in the direction they’d come from—

And the demon was there again, in front of them, blocking the street. It seemed to have grown bigger, and a low noise was coming from it, a sort of angry insectile chittering.

“I don’t think it wants us to leave,” Jace said.

“Jace—”

But he was already running at the thing, sweeping Jahoel down in a long arc meant to decapitate, but the thing just shuddered again and re-formed, this time behind him. It reared up, showing a ridged underside like a cockroach’s. Jace whirled and brought Jahoel down, slicing into the creature’s midsection. Green fluid, thick as mucus, spurted over the blade.

Jace stepped back, his face twisting in disgust. The Behemoth was still making the same chittering noise. More fluid was spurting from it, but it didn’t seem hurt. It was moving forward purposefully.

“Jace!” Clary called. “Your blade—”

He looked down. The Behemoth demon’s mucus had coated Jahoel’s blade, dulling its flame. As he stared, the seraph blade spluttered and went out like a fire doused by sand. He dropped the weapon with a curse before any of the demon’s slime could touch him.

The Behemoth reared back again, ready to strike. Jace ducked back—and then Clary was there, darting between him and the demon, her seraph blade swinging. She jabbed the creature just below its row of teeth, the blade sinking into its mass with a wet, ugly sound.

She jerked back, gasping, as the demon went into another spasm. It seemed to take the creature a certain amount of energy to re-form each time it was wounded. If they could just wound it enough times—

Something moved at the edge of Clary’s vision. A flicker of gray and brown, moving fast. They weren’t alone in the street. Jace turned, his eyes widening. “Clary!” he shouted. “Behind you!”

Clary whirled, Cassiel blazing in her grip, just as the wolf launched itself at her, its lips drawn back in a fierce snarl, its jaws gaping wide.

Jace shouted something; Clary didn’t know what, but she saw the wild look in his eyes, even as she threw herself sideways, out of the path of the wolf. It sailed by her, claws outstretched, body arced—and struck its target, the Behemoth, knocking it flat to the ground before tearing at it with bared teeth.

The demon screamed, or as close as it could come to screaming—a high-pitched whining sound, like air being let out of a balloon. The wolf was on top of it, pinning it, its muzzle buried deep in the demon’s slimy hide. The Behemoth shuddered and thrashed in a desperate effort to re-form and heal its injuries, but the wolf wasn’t giving it a chance. Its claws sunk deeply into demon flesh, the wolf tore chunks of jellylike flesh out of the Behemoth’s body with its teeth, ignoring the spurting green fluid that fountained around it. The Behemoth began a last, desperate series of convulsive spasms, its serrated jaws clacking together as it thrashed—and then it was gone, only a viscous puddle of green fluid steaming on the cobblestones where it had been.

The wolf made a noise—a sort of satisfied grunt—and turned to regard Jace and Clary with eyes turned silver by the moonlight. Jace pulled another blade from his belt and held it high, drawing a fiery line on the air between themselves and the werewolf.

The wolf snarled, the hair rising stiffly along its spine.

Clary caught at his arm. “No—don’t.”

“It’s a werewolf, Clary—”

“It killed the demon for us! It’s on our side!” She broke away from Jace before he could hold her back, approaching the wolf slowly, her hands out, palms flat. She spoke in a low, calm voice. “I’m sorry. We’re sorry. We know you don’t want to hurt us.” She paused, hands still outstretched, as the wolf regarded her with blank eyes. “Who—who are you?” she asked. She looked back over her shoulder at Jace and frowned. “Can you put that thing away?”

Jace looked as if he was about to tell her in no uncertain terms that you didn’t just put away a seraph blade that was blazing in the presence of danger, but before he could say anything, the wolf gave another low growl and began to rise. Its legs elongated, its spine straightening, its jaw retracting. In a few seconds a girl stood in front of them—a girl wearing a stained white shift dress, her curling hair tied back in multiple braids, a scar banding her throat.

“‘Who are you?’” the girl mimicked in disgust. “I can’t believe you didn’t recognize me. It’s not like all wolves look exactly alike. Humans.”

Clary let out a breath of relief. “Maia!”

“It’s me. Saving your butts, as usual.” She grinned. She was spattered with blood and ichor—it hadn’t been that visible against her wolf’s coat, but the black and red streaks stood out startlingly against her brown skin. She put her hand against her stomach. “And gross, by the way. I can’t believe I munched all that demon. I hope I’m not allergic.”

“But what are you doing here?” Clary demanded. “I mean, not that we’re not glad to see you, but—”

“Don’t you know?” Maia looked from Jace to Clary in puzzlement. “Luke brought us here.”

“Luke?” Clary stared. “Luke is … here?”

Maia nodded. “He got in touch with his pack, and a bunch of others, everyone he could think of, and told us all we had to come to Idris. We flew to the border and traveled from there. Some of the other packs, they Portaled into the forest and met us there. Luke said the Nephilim were going to need our help….” Her voice trailed off. “Did you not know about this?”

“No,” said Jace, “and I doubt the Clave did either. They’re not big on taking help from Downworlders.”

Maia straightened up, her eyes sparking with anger. “If it hadn’t been for us, you all would have been slaughtered. There was no one protecting the city when we got here—”

“Don’t,” Clary said, shooting an angry look at Jace. “I’m really, really grateful to you for saving us, Maia, and Jace is too, even though he’s so stubborn that he’d rather jam a seraph blade through his eyeball than say so. And don’t say you hope he does,” she added hastily, seeing the look on the other girl’s face, “because that’s really not helpful. Right now we need to get to the Lightwoods’ house, and then I have to find Luke—”

“The Lightwoods? I think they’re in the Accords Hall. That’s where we’ve been bringing everyone. I saw Alec there, at least,” Maia said, “and that warlock, too, the one with the spiky hair. Magnus.”

“If Alec is there, the others must be too.” The look of relief on Jace’s face made Clary want to put her hand on his shoulder. She didn’t. “Clever to bring everyone to the Hall; it’s warded.” He slid the glowing seraph blade into his belt. “Come on—let’s go.”

* * *

Clary recognized the inside of the Hall of Accords the moment she entered it. It was the place she had dreamed about, where she had been dancing with Simon and then Jace.

This was where I was trying to send myself when I went through the Portal, she thought, looking around at the pale white walls and the high ceiling with its enormous glass skylight through which she could see the night sky. The room, though very large, seemed somehow smaller and dingier than it had in her dream. The mermaid fountain was still there in the center of the room, spurting water, but it looked tarnished, and the steps that led up to it were crowded with people, many sporting bandages. The space was full of Shadowhunters, people hurrying here and there, sometimes stopping to peer into the faces of other passersby as if hoping to find a friend or a relative. The floor was filthy with dirt, tracked with smeared mud and blood.

What struck Clary more than anything else was the silence. If this had been the aftermath of some disaster in the mundane world, there would have been people shouting, screaming, calling out to one another. But the room was almost soundless. People sat quietly, some with their heads in their hands, some staring into space. Children huddled close to their parents, but none of them were crying.

She noticed something else, too, as she made her way into the room, Jace and Maia on either side of her. There was a group of scruffy-looking people standing by the fountain in a ragged circle. They stood somehow apart from the rest of the crowd, and when Maia caught sight of them and smiled, Clary realized why.

“My pack!” Maia exclaimed. She darted toward them, pausing only to glance back over her shoulder at Clary as she went. “I’m sure Luke’s around here somewhere,” she called, and vanished into the group, which closed around her. Clary wondered, for a moment, what would happen if she followed the werewolf girl into the circle. Would they welcome her as Luke’s friend, or just be suspicious of her as another Shadowhunter?

“Don’t,” Jace said, as if reading her mind. “It’s not a good—”

But Clary never found out what it wasn’t, because there was a cry of “Jace!” and Alec appeared, breathless from pushing his way through the crowd to get to them. His dark hair was a mess and there was blood on his clothes, but his eyes were bright with a mixture of relief and anger. He grabbed Jace by the front of his jacket. “What happened to you?”

Jace looked affronted. “What happened to me?”

Alec shook him, not lightly. “You said you were going for a walk! What kind of walk takes six hours?”

“A long one?” Jace suggested.

“I could kill you,” Alec said, releasing his grip on Jace’s clothes. “I’m seriously thinking about it.”

“That would kind of defeat the point, though, wouldn’t it?” said Jace. He glanced around. “Where is everyone? Isabelle, and—”

“Isabelle and Max are back at the Penhallows’, with Sebastian,” said Alec. “Mom and Dad are on their way there to get them. And Aline’s here, with her parents, but she’s not talking much. She had a pretty bad time with a Rahab demon down by one of the canals. But Izzy saved her.”

“And Simon?” Clary said anxiously. “Have you seen Simon? He should have come down with the others from the Gard.”

Alec shook his head. “No, I haven’t—but I haven’t seen the Inquisitor, either, or the Consul. He’d probably be with one of them. Maybe they stopped somewhere else, or—” He broke off, as a murmur swept the room; Clary saw the group of lycanthropes look up, alert as a group of hunting dogs scenting game. She turned—


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