Though he knew the cell door must be locked, Simon couldn’t help himself; he strode across the floor and seized the knob. A searing pain shot through his hand. He yelled and jerked his arm back, staring. Thin wisps of smoke rose from his burned palm; an intricate design had been charred into the skin. It looked a little like a Star of David inside a circle, with delicate runes drawn in each of the hollow spaces between the lines.

The pain felt like white heat. Simon curled his hand in on itself as a gasp rose to his lips. “What is this?” he whispered, knowing no one could hear him.

“It’s the Seal of Solomon,” said a voice. “It contains, they claim, one of the True Names of God. It repels demons—and your kind as well, being an article of your faith.”

Simon jerked upright, half-forgetting the pain in his hand. “Who’s there? Who said that?”

There was a pause. Then, “I’m in the cell next to yours, Daylighter,” said the voice. It was male, adult, slightly hoarse. “The guards were here half the day talking about how to keep you penned in. So I wouldn’t bother trying to get it open. You’re better off saving your strength till you find out what the Clave wants from you.”

“They can’t hold me here,” Simon protested. “I don’t belong to this world. My family will notice I’m missing—my teachers—”

“They’ve taken care of that. There are simple enough spells—a beginning warlock could use them—that will supply your parents with the illusion that there’s a perfectly legitimate reason for your absence. A school trip. A visit to family. It can be done.” There was no threat in the voice, and no sorrow; it was matter-of-fact. “Do you really think they’ve never made a Downworlder disappear before?”

“Who are you?” Simon’s voice cracked. “Are you a Downworlder too? Is this where they keep us?”

This time there was no answer. Simon called out again, but his neighbor had evidently decided that he’d said all he wanted to say. Nothing answered Simon’s cries but silence.

The pain in his hand had faded. Looking down, Simon saw that the skin no longer looked burned, but the mark of the Seal was printed on his palm as if it had been drawn there in ink. He looked back at the cell bars. He realized now that not all the runes were runes at all: Carved between them were Stars of David and lines from the Torah in Hebrew. The carvings looked new.

The guards were here half the day talking about how to keep you penned in, the voice had said.

But it hadn’t just been because he was a vampire, laughably; it had partly been because he was Jewish. They had spent half the day carving the Seal of Solomon into that doorknob so it would burn him when he touched it. It had taken them this long to turn the articles of his faith against him.

For some reason the realization stripped away the last of Simon’s self-possession. He sank down onto the bed and put his head in his hands.

Princewater Street was dark when Alec returned from the Gard, the windows of the houses shuttered and shaded, only the occasional witchlight streetlamp casting a pool of white illumination onto the cobblestones. The Penhallows’ house was the brightest on the block—candles glowed in the windows, and the front door was slightly ajar, letting a slice of yellow light out to curve along the walkway.

Jace was sitting on the low stone wall that bordered the Penhallows’ front garden, his hair very bright under the light of the nearest streetlamp. He looked up as Alec approached, and shivered a little. He was wearing only a light jacket, Alec saw, and it had grown cold since the sun had gone down. The smell of late roses hung in the chilly air like thin perfume.

Alec sank down onto the wall beside Jace. “Have you been out here waiting for me all this time?”

“Who says I’m waiting for you?”

“It went fine, if that’s what you were worried about. I left Simon with the Inquisitor.”

“You left him? You didn’t stay to make sure everything went all right?”

“It was fine,” Alec repeated. “The Inquisitor said he’d take him inside personally and send him back to—”

“The Inquisitor said, the Inquisitor said,” Jace interrupted. “The last Inquisitor we met completely exceeded her command—if she hadn’t died, the Clave would have relieved her of her position, maybe even cursed her. What’s to say this Inquisitor isn’t a nut job too?”

“He seemed all right,” said Alec. “Nice, even. He was perfectly polite to Simon. Look, Jace—this is how the Clave works. We don’t get to control everything that happens. But you have to trust them, because otherwise everything turns into chaos.”

“But they’ve screwed up a lot recently—you have to admit that.”

“Maybe,” Alec said, “but if you start thinking you know better than the Clave and better than the Law, what makes you any better than the Inquisitor? Or Valentine?”

Jace flinched. He looked as if Alec had hit him, or worse.

Alec’s stomach dropped. “I’m sorry.” He reached out a hand. “I didn’t mean that—”

A beam of bright yellow light cut across the garden suddenly. Alec looked up to see Isabelle framed in the open front door, light pouring out around her. She was only a silhouette, but he could tell from the hands on her hips that she was annoyed. “What are you two doing out here?” she called. “Everyone’s wondering where you are.”

Alec turned back to his friend. “Jace—”

But Jace, getting to his feet, ignored Alec’s outstretched hand. “You’d better be right about the Clave,” was all he said.

Alec watched as Jace stalked back to the house. Unbidden, Simon’s voice came into his mind. Now I wonder all the time how you go back after something like that. Whether we can ever be friends again, or if what we had is broken into pieces. Not because of her, but because of me.

The front door shut, leaving Alec sitting in the half-lit garden, alone. He closed his eyes for a moment, the image of a face hovering behind his lids. Not Jace’s face, for a change. The eyes set in the face were green, slit-pupiled. Cat eyes.

Opening his eyes, he reached into his satchel and drew out a pen and a piece of paper, torn from the spiral-bound notebook he used as a journal. He wrote a few words on it and then, with his stele, traced the rune for fire at the bottom of the page. It went up faster than he’d thought it would; he let go of the paper as it burned, floating in midair like a firefly. Soon all that was left was a fine drift of ash, sifting like white powder across the rosebushes.



AFTERNOON LIGHT WOKE CLARY, A BEAM OF PALE BRIGHTNESS that laid itself directly over her face, lighting the insides of her eyelids to hot pink. She stirred restlessly and warily opened her eyes.

The fever was gone, and so was the sense that her bones were melting and breaking inside her. She sat up and glanced around with curious eyes. She was in what had to be Amatis’s spare room—it was small, white-painted, the bed covered with a brightly woven rag blanket. Lace curtains were drawn back over round windows, letting in circles of light. She sat up slowly, waiting for dizziness to wash over her. Nothing happened. She felt entirely healthy, even well rested. Getting out of bed, she looked down at herself. Someone had put her in a pair of starched white pajamas, though they were wrinkled now and too big for her; the sleeves hung down comically past her fingers.

She went to one of the circular windows and peered out. Stacked houses of old-gold stone rose up the side of a hill, and the roofs looked as if they had been shingled in bronze. This side of the house faced away from the canal, onto a narrow side garden turning brown and gold with autumn. A trellis crawled up the side of the house; a single last rose hung on it, drooping browning petals.

The doorknob rattled, and Clary climbed hastily back into bed just before Amatis entered, holding a tray in her hands. She raised her eyebrows when she saw Clary was awake, but said nothing.

“Where’s Luke?” Clary demanded, drawing the blanket close around herself for comfort.

Amatis set the tray down on the table beside the bed. There was a mug of something hot on it, and some slices of buttered bread. “You should eat something. You’ll feel better.”

“I feel fine,” Clary said. “Where’s Luke?”

There was a high-backed chair beside the table; Amatis sat in it, folded her hands in her lap, and regarded Clary calmly. In the daylight Clary could see more clearly the lines in her face—she looked older than Clary’s mother by many years, though they couldn’t be that far apart in age. Her brown hair was stippled with gray, her eyes rimmed with dark pink, as if she had been crying. “He’s not here.”

“Not here like he just popped around the corner to the bodega for a six-pack of Diet Coke and a box of Krispy Kremes, or not here like …”

“He left this morning, around dawn, after sitting up with you all night. As to his destination, he wasn’t specific.” Amatis’s tone was dry, and if Clary hadn’t felt so wretched, she might have been amused to note that it made her sound much more like Luke. “When he lived here, before he left Idris, after he was … Changed … he led a wolf pack that made its home in Brocelind Forest. He said he was going back to them, but he wouldn’t say why or for how long—only that he’d be back in a few days.”

“He just … left me here? Am I supposed to sit around and wait for him?”

“Well, he couldn’t very well take you with him, could he?” Amatis asked. “And it won’t be easy for you to get home. You broke the Law in coming here like you did, and the Clave won’t overlook that, or be generous about letting you leave.”

“I don’t want to go home.” Clary tried to collect herself. “I came here to … to meet someone. I have something to do.”

“Luke told me,” said Amatis. “Let me give you a piece of advice—you’ll only find Ragnor Fell if he wants to be found.”


“Clarissa.” Amatis looked at her speculatively. “We’re expecting an attack by Valentine at any moment. Almost every Shadowhunter in Idris is here in the city, inside the wards. Staying in Alicante is the safest thing for you.”

Clary sat frozen. Rationally, Amatis’s words made sense, but it didn’t do much to quiet the voice inside her screaming that she couldn’t wait. She had to find Ragnor Fell now; she had to save her mother now; she had to go now. She bit down on her panic and tried to speak casually. “Luke never told me he had a sister.”

“No,” Amatis said. “He wouldn’t have. We weren’t—close.”

“Luke said your last name was Herondale,” Clary said. “But that’s the Inquisitor’s last name. Isn’t it?”

“It was,” said Amatis, and her face tightened as if the words pained her. “She was my mother-in-law.”

What was it Luke had told Clary about the Inquisitor? That she’d had a son, who’d married a woman with undesirable family connections. “You were married to Stephen Herondale?”

Amatis looked surprised. “You know his name?”

“I do—Luke told me—but I thought his wife died. I thought that’s why the Inquisitor was so—” Horrible, she wanted to say, but it seemed cruel to say it. “Bitter,” she said at last.

Amatis reached for the mug she’d brought; her hand shook a little as she lifted it. “Yes, she did die. Killed herself. That was Céline—Stephen’s second wife. I was the first.”

“And you got divorced?”

“Something like that.” Amatis thrust the mug at Clary. “Look, drink this. You have to put something in your stomach.”

Distracted, Clary took the mug and swallowed a hot mouthful. The liquid inside was rich and salty—not tea, as she’d thought, but soup. “Okay,” she said. “So what happened?”

Amatis was gazing into the distance. When Luke was—when what happened to Luke happened, Valentine needed a new lieutenant. He chose Stephen—we had both recently joined the Circle. And when he chose Stephen, he decided that perhaps it wouldn’t be fitting for the wife of his closest friend and adviser to be someone whose brother was …”

“A werewolf.”

“He used another word.” Amatis sounded bitter. “He convinced Stephen to annul our marriage and to find himself another wife, one that Valentine had picked for him. Céline was so young—so completely obedient.”

“That’s horrible.”

Amatis shook her head with a brittle laugh. “It was a long time ago. Stephen was kind, I suppose—he gave me this house and moved back into the Herondale manor with his parents and Céline. I never saw him again after that. I left the Circle, of course. They wouldn’t have wanted me anymore. The only one of them who still visited me was Jocelyn. She even told me when she went to see Luke….” She pushed her graying hair back behind her ears. “I heard about Stephen’s death days after it had happened. And Céline—I’d hated her, but I felt sorry for her then. She cut her wrists, they say—blood everywhere—” She took a deep breath. “I saw Imogen later at Stephen’s funeral, when they put his body into the Herondale mausoleum. She didn’t even seem to recognize me. They made her the Inquisitor not long after that. The Clave felt there was no one else who would hunt down the former members of the Circle more ruthlessly than she would—and they were right. If she could have washed away her memories of Stephen in their blood, she would have.”

Clary thought of the cold eyes of the Inquisitor, her narrow, hard stare, and tried to feel pity for her. “I think it made her crazy,” she said. “Really crazy. She was horrible to me—but mostly to Jace. It was like she wanted him dead.” Copyright 2016 - 2024