Isabelle looked horrified. “Luke’s here? Oh, Clary—”

“He’s not here,” Clary said. “He left—this morning—and I don’t know where he went. But I can certainly see now why he had to go.” She could hardly bear to look at Jace. “Fine. You win. We should never have come. I should never have made that Portal—”

“Made a Portal?” Isabelle looked bewildered. “Clary, only a warlock can make a Portal. And there aren’t very many of them. The only Portal here in Idris is in the Gard.”

“Which is what I have to talk to you about,” Alec hissed at Jace—who looked, Clary saw with surprise, even worse than he had before; he looked as if he were about to pass out. “About the errand I went on last night—the thing I had to deliver to the Gard—”

“Alec, stop. Stop,” Jace said, and the harsh desperation in his voice cut the other boy off; Alec shut his mouth and stood staring at Jace, his lip caught between his teeth. But Jace didn’t seem to see him; he was looking at Clary, and his eyes were hard as glass. Finally he spoke. “You’re right,” he said in a choked voice, as if he had to force out the words. “You should never have come. I know I told you it’s because it isn’t safe for you here, but that wasn’t true. The truth is that I don’t want you here because you’re rash and thoughtless and you’ll mess everything up. It’s just how you are. You’re not careful, Clary.”

“Mess … everything … up?” Clary couldn’t get enough air into her lungs for anything but a whisper.

“Oh, Jace,” Isabelle said sadly, as if he were the one who was hurt. He didn’t look at her. His gaze was fixed on Clary.

“You always just race ahead without thinking,” he said. “You know that, Clary. We’d never have ended up in the Dumort if it wasn’t for you.”

“And Simon would be dead! Doesn’t that count for anything? Maybe it was rash, but—”

His voice rose. “Maybe?”

“But it’s not like every decision I’ve made was a bad one! You said, after what I did on the boat, you said I’d saved everyone’s life—”

All the remaining color in Jace’s face went. He said, with a sudden and astounding viciousness, “Shut up, Clary, SHUT UP—”

“On the boat?” Alec’s gaze danced between them, bewildered. “What about what happened on the boat? Jace—”

“I just told you that to keep you from whining!” Jace shouted, ignoring Alec, ignoring everything but Clary. She could feel the force of his sudden anger like a wave threatening to knock her off her feet. “You’re a disaster for us, Clary! You’re a mundane—you’ll always be one; you’ll never be a Shadowhunter. You don’t know how to think like we do, think about what’s best for everyone—all you ever think about is yourself! But there’s a war on now, or there will be, and I don’t have the time or the inclination to follow around after you, trying to make sure you don’t get one of us killed!”

She just stared at him. She couldn’t think of a thing to say; he’d never spoken to her like this. She’d never even imagined him speaking to her like this. However angry she’d managed to make him in the past, he’d never spoken to her as if he hated her before.

“Go home, Clary,” he said. He sounded very tired, as if the effort of telling her how he really felt had drained him. “Go home.”

All her plans evaporated—her half-formed hopes of rushing after Fell, saving her mother, even finding Luke—nothing mattered, no words came. She crossed to the door. Alec and Isabelle moved to let her pass. Neither of them would look at her; they looked away instead, their expressions shocked and embarrassed. Clary knew she probably ought to feel humiliated as well as angry, but she didn’t. She just felt dead inside.

She turned at the door and looked back. Jace was staring after her. The light that streamed through the window behind him left his face in shadow; all she could see was the bright bits of sunshine that dusted his fair hair, like shards of broken glass.

“When you told me the first time that Valentine was your father, I didn’t believe it,” she said. “Not just because I didn’t want it to be true, but because you weren’t anything like him. I’ve never thought you were anything like him. But you are. You are.”

She went out of the room, shutting the door behind her.

“They’re going to starve me,” Simon said.

He was lying on the floor of his cell, the stone cold under his back. From this angle, though, he could see the sky through the window. In the days after Simon had first become a vampire, when he had thought he would never see daylight again, he’d found himself thinking incessantly about the sun and the sky. About the ways the color of the sky changed during the day: about the pale sky of morning, the hot blue of midday, and the cobalt darkness of twilight. He’d lain awake in the darkness with a parade of blues marching through his brain. Now, flat on his back in the cell under the Gard, he wondered if he’d had daylight and all its blues restored to him just so that he could spend the short, unpleasant rest of his life in this tiny space with only a patch of sky visible through the single barred window in the wall.

“Did you hear what I said?” He raised his voice. “The Inquisitor’s going to starve me to death. No more blood.”

There was a rustling noise. An audible sigh. Then Samuel spoke. “I heard you. I just don’t know what you want me to do about it.” He paused. “I’m sorry for you, Daylighter, if that helps.”

“It doesn’t really,” Simon said. “The Inquisitor wants me to lie. Wants me to tell him that the Lightwoods are in league with Valentine. Then he’ll send me home.” He rolled over onto his stomach, the stones jabbing into his skin. “Never mind. I don’t know why I’m telling you all this. You probably have no idea what I’m talking about.”

Samuel made a noise halfway between a chuckle and a cough. “Actually, I do. I knew the Lightwoods. We were in the Circle together. The Lightwoods, the Waylands, the Pangborns, the Herondales, the Penhallows. All the fine families of Alicante.”

“And Hodge Starkweather,” Simon said, thinking of the Lightwoods’ tutor. “He was too, wasn’t he?”

“He was,” said Samuel. “But his family was hardly a well-respected one. Hodge showed some promise once, but I fear he never lived up to it.” He paused. “Aldertree’s always hated the Lightwoods, of course, since we were children. He wasn’t rich or clever or attractive, and, well, they weren’t very kind to him. I don’t think he’s ever gotten over it.”

“Rich?” Simon said. “I thought all Shadowhunters got paid by the Clave. Like … I don’t know, communism or something.”

“In theory all Shadowhunters are fairly and equally paid,” said Samuel. “Some, like those with high positions in the Clave, or those with great responsibility—running an Institute, for example—receive a higher salary. Then there are those who live outside Idris and choose to make money in the mundane world; it’s not forbidden, as long as they tithe a part of it to the Clave. But”—Samuel hesitated—“you saw the Penhallows’ house, didn’t you? What did you think of it?”

Simon cast his mind back. “Very fancy.”

“It’s one of the finest houses in Alicante,” said Samuel. “And they have another house, a manor out in the country. Almost all the rich families do. You see, there’s another way for Nephilim to gain wealth. They call it ‘spoils.’ Anything owned by a demon or Downworlder who is killed by a Shadowhunter becomes that Shadowhunter’s property. So if a wealthy warlock breaks the Law, and is killed by a Nephilim …”

Simon shivered. “So killing Downworlders is a lucrative business?”

“It can be,” said Samuel bitterly, “if you’re not too choosy about who you kill. You can see why there’s so much opposition to the Accords. It cuts into people’s pocketbooks, having to be careful about murdering Downworlders. Perhaps that’s why I joined the Circle. My family was never a rich one, and to be looked down on for not accepting blood money—” He broke off.

“But the Circle murdered Downworlders too,” said Simon.

“Because they thought it was their sacred duty,” said Samuel. “Not out of greed. Though I can’t imagine now why I ever thought that mattered.” He sounded exhausted. “It was Valentine. He had a way about him. He could convince you of anything. I remember standing beside him with my hands covered in blood, looking down at the body of a dead woman, and thinking only that what I was doing had to be right, because Valentine said it was so.”

“A dead Downworlder?”

Samuel breathed raggedly on the other side of the wall. At last, he said, “You must understand: I would have done anything he asked. Any of us would have. The Lightwoods as well. The Inquisitor knows that, and that is what he is trying to exploit. But you should know—there’s the chance that if you give in to him and throw blame on the Lightwoods, he’ll kill you anyway to shut you up. It depends on whether the idea of being merciful makes him feel powerful at the time.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Simon said. “I’m not going to do it. I won’t betray the Lightwoods.”

“Really?” Samuel sounded unconvinced. “Is there some reason why not? Do you care for the Lightwoods that much?”

“Anything I told him about them would be a lie.”

“But it might be the lie he wants to hear. You do want to go home, don’t you?”

Simon stared at the wall as if he could somehow see through it to the man on the other side. “Is that what you’d do? Lie to him?”

Samuel coughed—a wheezy sort of cough, as if he wasn’t very healthy. Then again, it was damp and cold down here, which didn’t bother Simon, but would probably bother a normal human being very much. “I wouldn’t take moral advice from me,” he said. “But yes, I probably would. I’ve always put saving my own skin first.”

“I’m sure that’s not true.”

“Actually,” said Samuel, “it is. One thing you’ll learn as you get older, Simon, is that when people tell you something unpleasant about themselves, it’s usually true.”

But I’m not going to get older, Simon thought. Out loud he said, “That’s the first time you’ve called me Simon. Simon and not Daylighter.”

“I suppose it is.”

“And as for the Lightwoods,” Simon said, “it’s not that I like them that much. I mean, I like Isabelle, and I sort of like Alec and Jace, too. But there’s this girl. And Jace is her brother.”

When Samuel replied, he sounded, for the first time, genuinely amused. “Isn’t there always a girl.”

The moment the door shut behind Clary, Jace slumped back against the wall, as if his legs had been cut out from under him. He looked gray with a mixture of horror, shock, and what looked almost like … relief, as if a catastrophe had been narrowly avoided.

“Jace,” Alec said, taking a step toward his friend. “Do you really think—”

Jace spoke in a low voice, cutting Alec off. “Get out,” he said. “Just get out, both of you.”

“So you can do what?” Isabelle demanded. “Wreck your life some more? What the hell was that about?”

Jace shook his head. “I sent her home. It was the best thing for her.”

“You did a hell of a lot more than send her home. You destroyed her. Did you see her face?”

“It was worth it,” said Jace. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“For her, maybe,” Isabelle said. “I hope it winds up worth it for you.”

Jace turned his face away. “Just … leave me alone, Isabelle. Please.”

Isabelle cast a startled look toward her brother. Jace never said please. Alec put a hand on her shoulder. “Never mind, Jace,” he said, as kindly as he could. “I’m sure she’ll be fine.”

Jace raised his head and looked at Alec without actually looking at him—he seemed to be staring off at nothing. “No, she won’t,” he said. “But I knew that. Speaking of which, you might as well tell me what you came in here to tell me. You seemed to think it was pretty important at the time.”

Alec took his hand off Isabelle’s shoulder. “I didn’t want to tell you in front of Clary—”

Jace’s eyes finally focused on Alec. “Didn’t want to tell me what in front of Clary?”

Alec hesitated. He’d rarely seen Jace so upset, and he could only imagine what effect further unpleasant surprises might have on him. But there was no way to hide this. Jace had to know. “Yesterday,” he said, in a low voice, “when I brought Simon up to the Gard, Malachi told me Magnus Bane would be meeting Simon at the other end of the Portal, in New York. So I sent a fire-message to Magnus. I heard back from him this morning. He never met Simon in New York. In fact, he says there’s been no Portal activity in New York since Clary came through.”

“Maybe Malachi was wrong,” Isabelle suggested, after a quick look at Jace’s ashen face. “Maybe someone else met Simon on the other side. And Magnus could be wrong about the Portal activity—”

Alec shook his head. “I went up to the Gard this morning with Mom. I meant to ask Malachi about it myself, but when I saw him—I can’t say why—I ducked behind a corner. I couldn’t face him. Then I heard him talking to one of the guards. Telling them to go bring the vampire upstairs because the Inquisitor wanted to speak to him again.” Copyright 2016 - 2024