Clary tried to speak, to say that she didn’t need to be warmed, that she was burning up, but the sounds that came out of her mouth weren’t the ones she’d intended. She heard herself whimper as Luke lifted her, and then there was heat, thawing her left side—she hadn’t even realized she was cold. Her teeth clicked together hard, and she tasted blood in her mouth. The world began to tremble around her like water shaken in a glass.

“The Lake of Dreams?” Amatis’s voice was full of disbelief. Clary couldn’t see her clearly, but she seemed to be standing near the stove, a long-handled wooden spoon in her hand. “What were you doing there? Does Jocelyn know where—”

And the world was gone, or at least the real world, the kitchen with the yellow walls and the comforting fire behind the grate. Instead she saw the waters of Lake Lyn, with fire reflected in them as if in the surface of a piece of polished glass. Angels were walking on the glass—angels with white wings that hung bloodied and broken from their backs, and each of them had Jace’s face. And then there were other angels, with wings of black shadow, and they touched their hands to the fire and laughed….

“She keeps calling out for her brother.” Amatis’s voice sounded hollow, as if filtering down from impossibly high overhead. “He’s with the Lightwoods, isn’t he? They’re staying with the Penhallows on Princewater Street. I could—”

“No,” Luke said sharply. “No. It’s better Jace doesn’t know about this.”

Was I calling out for Jace? Why would I do that? Clary wondered, but the thought was short-lived; the darkness came back, and the hallucinations claimed her again. This time she dreamed of Alec and of Isabelle; both looked as if they’d been through a fierce battle, their faces streaked with grime and tears. Then they were gone, and she dreamed of a faceless man with black wings sprouting from his back like a bat’s. Blood ran from his mouth when he smiled. Praying that the visions would vanish, Clary squeezed her eyes shut….

It was a long time before she surfaced again to the sound of voices above her. “Drink this,” Luke said. “Clary, you have to drink this,” and then there were hands on her back and fluid was being dripped into her mouth from a soaked rag. It tasted bitter and awful and she choked and gagged on it, but the hands on her back were firm. She swallowed, past the pain in her swollen throat. “There,” said Luke. “There, that should be better.”

Clary opened her eyes slowly. Kneeling beside her were Luke and Amatis, their nearly identically blue eyes filled with matching concern. She glanced behind them and saw nothing—no angels or devils with bat wings, only yellow walls and a pale pink teakettle balanced precariously on a windowsill.

“Am I going to die?” she whispered.

Luke smiled haggardly. “No. It’ll be a little while before you’re back on form, but—you’ll survive.”

“Okay.” She was too exhausted to feel much of anything, even relief. It felt as if all her bones had been removed, leaving a limp suit of skin behind. Looking up drowsily through her eyelashes, she said, almost without thinking, “Your eyes are the same.”

Luke blinked. “The same as what?”

“As hers,” Clary said, moving her sleepy gaze to Amatis, who looked perplexed. “The same blue.”

The ghost of a smile passed over Luke’s face. “Well, it’s not that surprising, considering,” he said. “I didn’t get a chance to introduce you properly before. Clary, this is Amatis Herondale. My sister.”

The Inquisitor fell silent the moment Alec and the chief officer were out of earshot. Simon followed him up the narrow witch-lit path, trying not to squint into the light. He was aware of the Gard rising up around him like the side of a ship rising up out of the ocean; lights blazed from its windows, staining the sky with a silvery light. There were low windows too, set at ground level. Several were barred, and there was only darkness within.

At length they reached a wooden door set into an archway at the side of the building. Aldertree moved to free the lock, and Simon’s stomach tightened. People, he’d noticed since he’d become a vampire, had a scent around them that changed with their moods. The Inquisitor stank of something bitter and strong as coffee, but much more unpleasant. Simon felt the prickling pain in his jaw that meant that his fang teeth wanted to come out, and shrank back from the Inquisitor as he passed through the door.

The hallway beyond was long and white, almost tunnel-like, as if it had been carved out of white rock. The Inquisitor hurried along, his witchlight bouncing brightly off the walls. For such a short-legged man he moved remarkably fast, turning his head from side to side as he went, his nose wrinkling as if he were smelling the air. Simon had to hurry to keep pace as they passed a set of huge double doors, thrown wide open like wings. In the room beyond, Simon could see an amphitheater with row upon row of chairs in it, each one occupied by a black-clad Shadowhunter. Voices echoed off the walls, many raised in anger, and Simon caught snatches of the conversation as he passed, the words blurring as the speakers overlapped each other.

“But we have no proof of what Valentine wants. He has communicated his wishes to no one—”

“What does it matter what he wants? He’s a renegade and a liar; do you really think any attempt to appease him would benefit us in the end?”

“You know a patrol found the dead body of a werewolf child on the outskirts of Brocelind? Drained of blood. It looks like Valentine’s completed the Ritual here in Idris.”

“With two of the Mortal Instruments in his possession, he’s more powerful than any one Nephilim has a right to be. We may have no choice—”

“My cousin died on that ship in New York. There’s no way we’re letting Valentine get away with what he’s already done. There must be retribution!”

Simon hesitated, curious to hear more, but the Inquisitor was buzzing around him like a fat, irritable bee. “Come along, come along,” he said, swinging his witchlight in front of him. “We don’t have a lot of time to waste. I should get back to the meeting before it ends.”

Reluctantly, Simon allowed the Inquisitor to push him along the corridor, the word “retribution” still ringing in his ears. The reminder of that night on the ship was cold, unpleasant. When they reached a door carved with a single stark black rune, the Inquisitor produced a key and unlocked it, ushering Simon inside with a broad gesture of welcome.

The room beyond was bare, decorated with a single tapestry that showed an angel rising out of a lake, clutching a sword in one hand and a cup in the other. The fact that he’d seen both the Cup and the Sword before momentarily distracted Simon. It wasn’t until he heard the click of a lock sliding home that he realized the Inquisitor had bolted the door behind him, locking them both in.

Simon glanced around. There was no furniture in the room besides a bench with a low table beside it. A decorative silver bell rested on the table. “The Portal … It’s in here?” he asked uncertainly.

“Simon, Simon.” Aldertree rubbed his hands together as if anticipating a birthday party or some other delightful event. “Are you really in such a hurry to leave? There are a few questions I had so hoped to ask you first….”

“Okay.” Simon shrugged uncomfortably. “Ask me whatever you want, I guess.”

“How very cooperative of you! How delightful!” Aldertree beamed. “So, how long is it exactly that you’ve been a vampire?”

“About two weeks.”

“And how did it happen? Were you attacked on the street, or perhaps in your bed at night? Do you know who it was who Turned you?”

“Well—not exactly.”

“But, my boy!” Aldertree cried. “How could you not know something like that?” The look he bent on Simon was open and curious. He seemed so harmless, Simon thought. Like someone’s grandfather or funny old uncle. Simon must have imagined the bitter smell.

“It really wasn’t that simple,” said Simon, and went on to explain about his two trips to the Dumort, one as a rat and the second under a compulsion so strong it had felt like a giant set of pincers holding him in their grasp and marching him exactly where they wanted him to go. “And so you see,” he finished, “the moment I walked in the door of the hotel, I was attacked—I don’t know which of them it was who Turned me, or if it was all of them somehow.”

The Inquisitor clucked. “Oh dear, oh dear. That’s not good at all. That’s very upsetting.”

“I certainly thought so,” Simon agreed.

“The Clave won’t be pleased.”

“What?” Simon was baffled. “What does the Clave care how I became a vampire?”

“Well, it would be one thing if you were attacked,” Aldertree said apologetically. “But you just walked out there and, well, gave yourself up to the vampires, you see? It looks a bit as if you wanted to be one.”

“I didn’t want to be one! That’s not why I went to the hotel!”

“Of course, of course.” Aldertree’s voice was soothing. “Let’s move to another topic, shall we?” Without waiting for a response, he went on. “How is it that the vampires let you survive to rise again, young Simon? Considering that you trespassed on their territory, their normal procedure would have been to feed until you died, and then burn your body to prevent you from rising.”

Simon opened his mouth to reply, to tell the Inquisitor how Raphael had taken him to the Institute, and how Clary and Jace and Isabelle had brought him to the cemetery and watched over him as he’d dug his way out of his own grave. Then he hesitated. He had only the vaguest idea how the Law worked, but he doubted somehow that it was standard Shadowhunter procedure to watch over vampires as they rose, or to provide them with blood for their first feeding. “I don’t know,” he said. “I have no idea why they Turned me instead of killing me.”

“But one of them must have let you drink his blood, or you wouldn’t be … well, what you are today. Are you saying you don’t know who your vampire sire was?”

My vampire sire? Simon had never thought of it that way—he’d gotten Raphael’s blood in his mouth almost by accident. And it was hard to think of the vampire boy as a sire of any sort. Raphael looked younger than Simon did. “I’m afraid not.”

“Oh, dear.” The Inquisitor sighed. “Most unfortunate.”

“What’s unfortunate?”

“Well, that you’re lying to me, my boy.” Aldertree shook his head. “And I had so hoped you’d cooperate. This is terrible, just terrible. You wouldn’t consider telling me the truth? Just as a favor?”

“I am telling you the truth!”

The Inquisitor drooped like an unwatered flower. “Such a shame.” He sighed again. “Such a shame.” He crossed the room then and rapped sharply on the door, still shaking his head.

“What’s going on?” Alarm and confusion tinged Simon’s voice. “What about the Portal?”

“The Portal?” Aldertree giggled. “You didn’t really think I was just going to let you go, did you?”

Before Simon could say a word in reply, the door burst open and Shadowhunters in black gear poured into the room, seizing hold of him. He struggled as strong hands clamped themselves around each of his arms. A hood was tugged down over his head, blinding him. He kicked out at the darkness; his foot connected, and he heard someone swear.

He was jerked backward viciously; a hot voice snarled in his ear. “Do that again, vampire, and I’ll pour holy water down your throat and watch you die puking blood.”

“That’s enough!” The Inquisitor’s thin, worried voice rose like a balloon. “There will be no more threats! I’m just trying to teach our guest a lesson.” He must have moved forward, because Simon smelled the strange, bitter smell again, muffled through the hood. “Simon, Simon,” Aldertree said. “I did so enjoy meeting you. I hope a night in the cells of the Gard will have the desired effect and in the morning you’ll be a bit more cooperative. I do still see such a bright future for us, once we get over this little hiccup.” His hand came down on Simon’s shoulder. “Take him downstairs, Nephilim.”

Simon yelled aloud, but his cries were muffled by the hood. The Shadowhunters dragged him from the room and propelled him down what felt like an endless series of mazelike corridors, twisting and turning. Eventually they reached a set of stairs and he was shoved down it by main force, his feet slipping on the steps. He couldn’t tell anything about where they were—except that there was a close, dark smell around them, like wet stone, and that the air was growing wetter and colder as they descended.

At last they paused. There was a scraping sound, like iron dragging over stone, and Simon was thrown forward to land on his hands and knees on hard ground. There was a loud, metallic clang, as of a door being slammed shut, and the sound of retreating footsteps, the echo of boots on stone growing fainter as Simon staggered to his feet. He dragged the hood from his head and threw it to the ground. The close, hot, suffocating feeling around his face vanished, and he fought the urge to gasp for breath—breath he didn’t need. He knew it was just a reflex, but his chest ached as if he’d really been deprived of air.

He was in a square barren stone room, with just a single barred window set into the wall above the small, hard-looking bed. Through a low door Simon could see a tiny bathroom with a sink and toilet. The west wall of the room was also barred—thick, iron-looking bars running from floor to ceiling, sunk deeply into the floor. A hinged iron door, made of bars itself, was set into the wall; it was fitted with a brass knob, which was carved across its face with a dense black rune. In fact, all the bars were carved with runes; even the window bars were wrapped with spidery lines of them. Copyright 2016 - 2024