City of Glass / Page 5

Page 5



He was looking out of an upper window in what must have been a fairly tall house. If he glanced up, he could see stone eaves and sky beyond. Across the way was another house, not quite as tall as this one, and between them ran a narrow, dark canal, crossed here and there by bridges—the source of the water he’d heard before. The house seemed to be built partway up a hill—below it honey-colored stone houses, clustered along narrow streets, fell away to the edge of a green circle: woods, surrounded by hills that were very far away; from here they resembled long green and brown strips dotted with bursts of autumn colors. Behind the hills rose jagged mountains frosted with snow.

But none of that was what was strange; what was strange was that here and there in the city, placed seemingly at random, rose soaring towers crowned with spires of reflective whitish-silvery material. They seemed to pierce the sky like shining daggers, and Simon realized where he had seen that material before: in the hard, glasslike weapons the Shadowhunters carried, the ones they called seraph blades.

“Those are the demon towers,” Jace said, in response to Simon’s unasked question. “They control the wards that protect the city. Because of them, no demon can enter Alicante.”

The air that came in through the window was cold and clean, the sort of air you never breathed in New York City: It tasted of nothing, not dirt or smoke or metal or other people. Just air. Simon took a deep, unnecessary breath of it before he turned to look at Jace; some human habits died hard. “Tell me,” he said, “that bringing me here was an accident. Tell me this wasn’t somehow all part of you wanting to stop Clary from coming with you.”

Jace didn’t look at him, but his chest rose and fell once, quickly, in a sort of suppressed gasp. “That’s right,” he said. “I created a bunch of Forsaken warriors, had them attack the Institute and kill Madeleine and nearly kill the rest of us, just so that I could keep Clary at home. And lo and behold, my diabolical plan is working.”

“Well, it is working,” Simon said quietly. “Isn’t it?”

“Listen, vampire,” Jace said. “Keeping Clary from Idris was the plan. Bringing you here was not the plan. I brought you through the Portal because if I’d left you behind, bleeding and unconscious, the Forsaken would have killed you.”

“You could have stayed behind with me—”

“They would have killed us both. I couldn’t even tell how many of them there were, not with the hellmist. Even I can’t fight off a hundred Forsaken.”

“And yet,” Simon said, “I bet it pains you to admit that.”

“You’re an ass,” Jace said, without inflection, “even for a Downworlder. I saved your life and I broke the Law to do it. Not for the first time, I might add. You could show a little gratitude.”

“Gratitude?” Simon felt his fingers curl in against his palms. “If you hadn’t dragged me to the Institute, I wouldn’t be here. I never agreed to this.”

“You did,” said Jace, “when you said you’d do anything for Clary. This is anything.”

Before Simon could snap back an angry retort, there was a knock on the door. “Hello?” Isabelle called from the other side. “Simon, is your diva moment over? I need to talk to Jace.”

“Come in, Izzy.” Jace didn’t take his eyes off Simon; there was an electric anger in his gaze, and a sort of challenge that made Simon long to hit him with something heavy. Like a pickup truck.

Isabelle entered the room in a swirl of black hair and tiered silvery skirts. The ivory corset top she wore left her arms and shoulders, twined with inky runes, bare. Simon supposed it was a nice change of pace for her to be able to show her Marks off in a place where no one would think them out of the ordinary.

“Alec’s going up to the Gard,” Isabelle said without preamble. “He wants to talk to you about Simon before he leaves. Can you come downstairs?”

“Sure.” Jace headed for the door; halfway there, he realized Simon was following him and turned with a glower. “You stay here.”

“No,” Simon said. “If you’re going to be discussing me, I want to be there for it.”

For a moment it looked as if Jace’s icy calm was about to snap; he flushed and opened his mouth, his eyes flashing. Just as quickly, the anger vanished, tamped down by an obvious act of will. He gritted his teeth and smiled. “Fine,” he said. “Come on downstairs, vampire. You can meet the whole happy family.”

The first time Clary had gone through a Portal, there had been a sense of flying, of weightless tumbling. This time it was like being thrust into the heart of a tornado. Howling winds tore at her, ripped her hand from Luke’s and the scream from her mouth. She fell whirling through the heart of a black and gold maelstrom.

Something flat and hard and silvery like the surface of a mirror rose up in front of her. She plunged toward it, shrieking, throwing her hands up to cover her face. She struck the surface and broke through, into a world of brutal cold and gasping suffocation. She was sinking through a thick blue darkness, trying to breathe, but she couldn’t draw air into her lungs, only more of the freezing coldness—

Suddenly she was seized by the back of her coat and hauled upward. She kicked feebly but was too weak to break the hold on her. It drew her up, and the indigo darkness around her turned to pale blue and then to gold as she broke the surface of the water—it was water—and sucked in a gasp of air. Or tried to. Instead she choked and gagged, black spots dotting her vision. She was being dragged through the water, fast, weeds catching and tugging at her legs and arms—she twisted around in the grip that held her and caught a terrifying glimpse of something, not quite wolf and not quite human, ears as pointed as daggers and lips drawn back from sharp white teeth. She tried to scream, but only water came up.

A moment later she was out of the water and being flung onto damp hard-packed earth. There were hands on her shoulders, slamming her facedown against the ground. The hands struck her back, over and over, until her chest spasmed and she coughed up a bitter stream of water.

She was still choking when the hands rolled her onto her back. She was looking up at Luke, a black shadow against a high blue sky touched with white clouds. The gentleness she was used to seeing in his expression was gone; he was no longer wolflike, but he looked furious. He hauled her into a sitting position, shaking her hard, over and over, until she gasped and struck out at him weakly. “Luke! Stop it! You’re hurting me—”

His hands left her shoulders. He grabbed her chin in one hand instead, forcing her head up, his eyes searching her face. “The water,” he said. “Did you cough up all the water?”

“I think so,” she whispered. Her voice came faintly from her swollen throat.

“Where’s your stele?” he demanded, and when she hesitated, his voice sharpened. “Clary. Your stele. Find it.”

She pulled away from his grasp and rummaged in her wet pockets, her heart sinking as her fingers scrabbled against nothing but damp material. She turned a miserable face up to Luke. “I think I must have dropped it in the lake.” She sniffled. “My … my mother’s stele …”

“Jesus, Clary.” Luke stood up, clasping his hands distractedly behind his head. He was soaking wet too, water running off his jeans and heavy flannel coat in thick rivulets. The spectacles he usually wore halfway down his nose were gone. He looked down at her somberly. “You’re all right,” he said. It wasn’t really a question. “I mean, right now. You feel all right?”

She nodded. “Luke, what’s wrong? Why do we need my stele?”

Luke said nothing. He was looking around as if hoping to glean some assistance from their surroundings. Clary followed his gaze. They were on the wide dirt bank of a good-size lake. The water was pale blue, sparked here and there with reflected sunlight. She wondered if it was the source of the gold light she’d seen through the half-open Portal. There was nothing sinister about the lake now that she was next to it instead of in it. It was surrounded by green hills dotted with trees just beginning to turn russet and gold. Beyond the hills rose high mountains, their peaks capped in snow.

Clary shivered. “Luke, when we were in the water—did you go part wolf? I thought I saw—”

“My wolf self can swim better than my human self,” Luke said shortly. “And it’s stronger. I had to drag you through the water, and you weren’t offering much help.”

“I know,” she said. “I’m sorry. You weren’t—you weren’t supposed to come with me.”

“If I hadn’t, you’d be dead now,” he pointed out. “Magnus told you, Clary. You can’t use a Portal to get into the Glass City unless you have someone waiting for you on the other side.”

“He said it was against the Law. He didn’t say if I tried to get there I’d bounce off.”

“He told you there are wards up around the city that prevent Portaling into it. It’s not his fault you decided to play around with magic you just barely understand. Just because you have power doesn’t mean you know how to use it.” He scowled.

“I’m sorry,” Clary said in a small voice. “It’s just—where are we now?”

“Lake Lyn,” said Luke. “I think the Portal took us as close to the city as it could and then dumped us. We’re on the outskirts of Alicante.” He looked around, shaking his head half in amazement and half in weariness. “You did it, Clary. We’re in Idris.”

“Idris?” Clary said, and stood staring stupidly out across the lake. It twinkled back at her, blue and undisturbed. “But—you said we were on the outskirts of Alicante. I don’t see the city anywhere.”

“We’re miles away.” Luke pointed. “You see those hills in the distance? We have to cross over those; the city is on the other side. If we had a car, we could get there in an hour, but we’re going to have to walk, which will probably take all afternoon.” He squinted up at the sky. “We’d better get going.”

Clary looked down at herself in dismay. The prospect of a daylong hike in soaking wet clothes did not appeal. “Isn’t there anything else … ?”

“Anything else we can do?” Luke said, and there was a sudden sharp edge of anger to his voice. “Do you have any suggestions, Clary, since you’re the one who brought us here?” He pointed away from the lake. “That way lie mountains. Passable on foot only in high summer. We’d freeze to death on the peaks.” He turned, stabbed his finger in another direction. “That way lie miles of woods. They run all the way to the border. They’re uninhabited, at least by human beings. Past Alicante there’s farmland and country houses. Maybe we could get out of Idris, but we’d still have to pass through the city. A city, I may add, where Downworlders like myself are hardly welcome.”

Clary looked at him with her mouth open. “Luke, I didn’t know—”

“Of course you didn’t know. You don’t know anything about Idris. You don’t even care about Idris. You were just upset about being left behind, like a child, and you had a tantrum. And now we’re here. Lost and freezing and—” He broke off, his face tight. “Come on. Let’s start walking.”

Clary followed Luke along the edge of Lake Lyn in a miserable silence. As they walked, the sun dried her hair and skin, but the velvet coat held water like a sponge. It hung on her like a lead curtain as she tripped hastily over rocks and mud, trying to keep up with Luke’s long-legged stride. She made a few further attempts at conversation, but Luke remained stubbornly silent. She’d never done anything so bad before that an apology hadn’t softened Luke’s anger. This time, it seemed, was different.

The cliffs rose higher around the lake as they progressed, pocked with spots of darkness, like splashes of black paint. As Clary looked more closely, she realized they were caves in the rock. Some looked like they went very deep, twisting away into darkness. She imagined bats and creepy-crawling things hiding in the blackness, and shivered.

At last a narrow path cutting through the cliffs led them to a wide road lined with crushed stones. The lake curved away behind them, indigo in the late afternoon sunlight. The road cut through a flat grassy plain that rose to rolling hills in the distance. Clary’s heart sank; the city was nowhere in sight.

Luke was staring toward the hills with a look of intense dismay on his face. “We’re farther than I thought. It’s been such a long time….”

“Maybe if we found a bigger road,” Clary suggested, “we could hitchhike, or get a ride to the city, or—”

“Clary. There are no cars in Idris.” Seeing her shocked expression, Luke laughed without much amusement. “The wards foul up the machinery. Most technology doesn’t work here—mobile phones, computers, the like. Alicante itself is lit—and powered—mostly by witchlight.”

“Oh,” Clary said in a small voice. “Well—about how far from the city are we?”

“Far enough.” Without looking at her, Luke raked both his hands back through his short hair. “There’s something I’d better tell you.”

Clary tensed. All she’d wanted before was for Luke to talk to her; now she didn’t want it anymore. “It’s all right—”

“Did you notice,” Luke said, “that there weren’t any boats on Lake Lyn—no docks—nothing that might suggest the lake is used in any way by the people of Idris?”

“I just thought that was because it was so remote.”

“It’s not that remote. A few hours from Alicante on foot. The fact is, the lake—” Luke broke off and sighed. “Did you ever notice the pattern on the library floor at the Institute in New York?”


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