City of Glass / Page 57

Page 57



“Jonathan—”

Blood spotted Valentine’s shirt where the tip of the blade rested, and Clary saw, in her mind’s eye, Jace at Renwick’s, his hand shaking, not wanting to hurt his father. And Valentine taunting him. Drive the blade in. Three inches—maybe four. It wasn’t like that now. Jace’s hand was steady. And Valentine looked afraid.

“Last words,” hissed Jace. “What are they?”

Valentine raised his head. His black eyes as he looked at the boy in front of him were grave. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I am so sorry.” He stretched out a hand, as if he meant to reach out to Jace, even to touch him—his hand turned, palm up, the fingers opening—and then there was a silver flash and something flew by Clary in the darkness like a bullet shot out of a gun. She felt displaced air brush her cheek as it passed, and then Valentine had caught it out of the air, a long tongue of silver fire that flashed once in his hand as he brought it down.

It was the Mortal Sword. It left a tracery of black light on the air as Valentine drove the blade of it into Jace’s heart.

Jace’s eyes flew wide. A look of disbelieving confusion passed over his face; he glanced down at himself, where Maellartach stuck grotesquely out of his chest—it looked more bizarre than horrible, like a prop from a nightmare that made no logical sense. Valentine drew his hand back then, jerking the Sword out of Jace’s chest the way he might have jerked a dagger from its scabbard; as if it had been all that was holding him up, Jace went to his knees. His sword slid from his grasp and hit the damp earth. He looked down at it in puzzlement, as if he had no idea why he had been holding it, or why he had let it go. He opened his mouth as if to ask the question, and blood poured over his chin, staining what was left of his ragged shirt.

Everything after that seemed to Clary to happen very slowly, as if time were stretching itself out. She saw Valentine sink to the ground and pull Jace onto his lap as if Jace were still very small and could be easily held. He drew him close and rocked him, and he lowered his face and pressed it against Jace’s shoulder, and Clary thought for a moment that he might even have been crying, but when he lifted his head, Valentine’s eyes were dry. “My son,” he whispered. “My boy.”

The terrible slowing of time stretched around Clary like a strangling rope, while Valentine held Jace and brushed his bloody hair back from his forehead. He held Jace while he died, and the light went out of his eyes, and then Valentine laid his adopted son’s body gently down on the ground, crossing his arms over his chest as if to hide the gaping, bloody wound there. “Ave—” he began, as if he meant to say the words over Jace, the Shadowhunter’s farewell, but his voice cracked, and he turned abruptly and walked back toward the altar.

Clary couldn’t move. Could barely breathe. She could hear her own heart beating, hear the scrape of her breathing in her dry throat. From the corner of her eye she could see Valentine standing by the edge of the lake, blood streaming from the blade of Maellartach and dripping into the bowl of the Mortal Cup. He was chanting words she didn’t understand. She didn’t care to try to understand. It would all be over soon, and she was almost glad. She wondered if she had enough energy to drag herself over to where Jace lay, if she could lie down beside him and wait for it to be over. She stared at him, lying motionless on the churned, bloody sand. His eyes were closed, his face still; if it weren’t for the gash across his chest, she could have told herself he was asleep.

But he wasn’t. He was a Shadowhunter; he had died in battle; he deserved the last benediction. Ave atque vale. Her lips shaped the words, though they fell from her mouth in silent puffs of air. Halfway through, she stopped, her breath catching. What should she say? Hail and farewell, Jace Wayland? That name was not truly his. He had never even really been named, she thought with agony, just given the name of a dead child because it had suited Valentine’s purposes at the time. And there was so much power in a name….

Her head whipped around, and she stared at the altar. The runes surrounding it had begun to glow. They were runes of summoning, runes of naming, and runes of binding. They were not unlike the runes that had kept Ithuriel imprisoned in the cellar beneath the Wayland manor. Now very much against her will, she thought of the way Jace had looked at her then, the blaze of faith in his eyes, his belief in her. He had always thought she was strong. He had showed it in everything he did, in every look and every touch. Simon had faith in her too, yet when he’d held her, it had been as if she were something fragile, something made of delicate glass. But Jace had held her with all the strength he had, never wondering if she could take it—he’d known she was as strong as he was.

Valentine was dipping the bloody Sword over and over in the water of the lake now, chanting low and fast. The water of the lake was rippling, as if a giant hand were stroking fingers lightly across its surface.

Clary closed her eyes. Remembering the way Jace had looked at her the night she’d freed Ithuriel, she couldn’t help but imagine the way he’d look at her now if he saw her trying to lie down to die on the sand beside him. He wouldn’t be touched, wouldn’t think it was a beautiful gesture. He’d be angry at her for giving up. He’d be so—disappointed.

Clary lowered herself so that she was lying on the ground, heaving her dead legs behind her. Slowly she crawled across the sand, pushing herself along with her knees and bound hands. The glowing band around her wrists burned and stung. Her shirt tore as she dragged herself across the ground, and the sand scraped the bare skin of her stomach. She barely felt it. It was hard work, pulling herself along like this—sweat ran down her back, between her shoulder blades. When she finally reached the circle of runes, she was panting so loudly that she was terrified Valentine would hear her.

But he didn’t even turn around. He had the Mortal Cup in one hand and the Sword in the other. As she watched, he drew his right hand back, spoke several words that sounded like Greek, and threw the Cup. It shone like a falling star as it hurtled toward the water of the lake and vanished beneath the surface with a faint splash.

The circle of runes was giving off a faint heat, like a partly banked fire. Clary had to twist and struggle to reach her hand around to the stele jammed into her belt. The pain in her wrists spiked as her fingers closed around the handle; she pulled it free with a muffled gasp of relief.

She couldn’t separate her wrists, so she gripped the stele awkwardly in both hands. She pushed herself up with her elbows, staring down at the runes. She could feel the heat of them on her face; they had begun to shimmer like witchlight. Valentine had the Mortal Sword poised, ready to throw it; he was chanting the last words of the summoning spell. With a final burst of strength Clary drove the tip of the stele into the sand, not scraping aside the runes Valentine had drawn but tracing her own pattern over them, writing a new rune over the one that symbolized his name. It was such a small rune, she thought, such a small change—nothing like her immensely powerful Alliance rune, nothing like the Mark of Cain.

But it was all she could do. Spent, Clary rolled onto her side as Valentine drew his arm back and let the Mortal Sword fly.

Maellartach hurtled end over end, a black and silver blur that joined soundlessly with the black and silver lake. A great plume went up from the place where it splashed down: a flowering of platinum water. The plume rose higher and higher, a geyser of molten silver, like rain falling upward. There was a great crashing noise, the sound of shattering ice, a glacier breaking—and then the lake seemed to blow apart, silver water exploding upward like a reverse hailstorm.

And rising with the hailstorm came the Angel. Clary was not sure what she’d expected—something like Ithuriel, but Ithuriel had been diminished by many years of captivity and torment. This was an angel in the full force of his glory. As he rose from the water, her eyes began to burn as if she were staring into the sun.

Valentine’s hands had fallen to his sides. He was gazing upward with a rapt expression, a man watching his greatest dream become reality. “Raziel,” he breathed.

The Angel continued to rise, as if the lake were sinking away, revealing a great column of marble at its center. First his head emerged from the water, streaming hair like chains of silver and gold. Then shoulders, white as stone, and then a bare torso—and Clary saw that the Angel was Marked all over with runes just as the Nephilim were, although Raziel’s runes were golden and alive, moving across his white skin like sparks flying from a fire. Somehow, at the same time, the Angel was both enormous and no bigger than a man: Clary’s eyes hurt trying to take all of him in, and yet he was all that she could see. As he rose, wings burst from his back and opened wide across the lake, and they were gold too, and feathered, and set into each feather was a single golden staring eye.

It was beautiful, and also terrifying. Clary wanted to look away, but she wouldn’t. She would watch it all. She would watch it for Jace, because he couldn’t.

It’s just like all those pictures, she thought. The Angel rising from the lake, the Sword in one hand and the Cup in the other. Both were streaming water, but Raziel was dry as a bone, his wings undampened. His feet rested, white and bare, on the surface of the lake, stirring its waters into small ripples of movement. His face, beautiful and inhuman, gazed down at Valentine.

And then he spoke.

His voice was like a cry and a shout and like music, all at once. It contained no words, yet was totally comprehensible. The force of his breath nearly knocked Valentine backward; he dug the heels of his boots into the sand, his head tilted back as if he were walking against a gale. Clary felt the wind of the Angel’s breath pass over her: It was hot like air escaping from a furnace, and smelled of strange spices.

It has been a thousand years since I was last summoned to this place, Raziel said. Jonathan Shadowhunter called on me then, and begged me to mix my blood with the blood of mortal men in a Cup and create a race of warriors who would rid this earth of demonkind. I did all that he asked and told him I would do no more. Why do you summon me now, Nephilim?

Valentine’s voice was eager. “A thousand years have passed, Glorious One, but demonkind are still here.”

What is that to me? A thousand years for an angel pass between one blink of an eye and another.

“The Nephilim you created were a great race of men. For many years they valiantly battled to rid this plane of demon taint. But they have failed due to weakness and corruption in their ranks. I intend to return them to their former glory—”

Glory? The Angel sounded faintly curious, as if the word were strange to him. Glory belongs to God alone.

Valentine didn’t waver. “The Clave as the first Nephilim created it exists no more. They have allied themselves with Downworlders, the demon-tainted nonhumans who infest this world like fleas on the carcass of a rat. It is my intention to cleanse this world, to destroy every Downworlder along with every demon—”

Demons do not possess souls. But as for the creatures you speak of, the Children of Moon, Night, Lilith, and Faerie, all are souled. It seems that your rules as to what does and does not constitute a human being are stricter than our own. Clary could have sworn the Angel’s voice had taken on a dry tone. Do you intend to challenge heaven like that other Morning Star whose name you bear, Shadowhunter?

“Not to challenge heaven, no, Lord Raziel. To ally myself with heaven—”

In a war of your making? We are heaven, Shadowhunter. We do not fight in your mundane battles.

When Valentine spoke again, he sounded almost hurt. “Lord Raziel. Surely you would not have allowed such a thing as a ritual by which you might be summoned to exist if you did not intend to be summoned. We Nephilim are your children. We need your guidance.”

Guidance? Now the Angel sounded amused. That hardly seems to be why you brought me here. You seek rather your own renown.

“Renown?” Valentine echoed hoarsely. “I have given everything for this cause. My wife. My children. I have not withheld my sons. I have given everything I have for this—everything.”

The Angel simply hovered, gazing down at Valentine with his weird, inhuman eyes. His wings moved in slow, undeliberate motions, like the passage of clouds across the sky. At last he said, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son on an altar much like this one, to see who it was that Abraham loved more, Isaac or God. But no one asked you to sacrifice your son, Valentine.

Valentine glanced down at the altar at his feet, splashed with Jace’s blood, and then back up at the Angel. “If I must, I will compel this from you,” he said. “But I would rather have your willing cooperation.”

When Jonathan Shadowhunter summoned me, said the Angel, I gave him my assistance because I could see that his dream of a world free of demons was a true one. He imagined a heaven on this earth. But you dream only of your own glory, and you do not love heaven. My brother Ithuriel can attest to that.

Valentine blanched. “But—”

Did you think that I would not know? The Angel smiled. It was the most terrible smile Clary had ever seen. It is true that the master of the circle you have drawn can compel from me a single action. But you are not that master.

Valentine stared. “My Lord Raziel—there is no one else—”

But there is, said the Angel. There is your daughter.

Valentine whirled. Clary, lying half-conscious in the sand, her wrists and arms a screaming agony, stared defiantly back. For a moment their eyes met—and he looked at her, really looked at her, and she realized it was the first time her father had ever looked her in the face and seen her. The first and only time.

“Clarissa,” he said. “What have you done?”

Clary stretched out her hand, and with her finger she wrote in the sand at his feet. She didn’t draw runes. She drew words—the words he had said to her the first time he’d seen what she could do, when she’d drawn the rune that had destroyed his ship.


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