And saw Luke, tired and bloodstained, coming through the double doors of the Hall.

She ran toward him. Forgetting how upset she’d been when he’d left, and forgetting how angry he’d been with her for bringing them here, forgetting everything but how glad she was to see him. He looked surprised for a moment as she barreled toward him—then he smiled, and put his arms out, and picked her up as he hugged her, the way he’d done when she’d been very small. He smelled like blood and flannel and smoke, and for a moment she closed her eyes, thinking of the way Alec had grabbed onto Jace the moment he’d seen him in the Hall, because that was what you did with family when you’d been worried about them; you grabbed them and held on to them and told them how much they’d pissed you off, and it was okay, because no matter how angry you got, they still belonged to you. And what she had said to Valentine was true. Luke was her family.

He set her back down on her feet, wincing a little as he did so. “Careful,” he said. “A Croucher demon got me in the shoulder down by Merryweather Bridge.” He put his hands on her shoulders, studying her face. “But you’re all right, aren’t you?”

“Well, this is a touching scene,” said a cold voice. “Isn’t it?”

Clary turned, Luke’s hand still on her shoulder. Behind her stood a tall man in a blue cloak that swirled around his feet as he moved toward them. His face under the hood of his cloak was the face of a carved statue: high-cheekboned with eagle-sharp features and heavy-lidded eyes. “Lucian,” he said, without looking at Clary. “I might have expected you’d be the one behind this—this invasion.”

“Invasion?” Luke echoed, and suddenly, there was his pack of lycanthropes, standing behind him. They had moved into place so quickly and silently it was as if they’d appeared from out of nowhere. “We’re not the ones who invaded your city, Consul. That was Valentine. We’re just trying to help.”

“The Clave doesn’t need help,” the Consul snapped. “Not from the likes of you. You’re breaking the Law just by entering the Glass City, wards or no wards. You must know that.”

“I think it’s fairly clear that the Clave does need help. If we hadn’t come when we did, many more of you would now be dead.” Luke glanced around the room; several groups of Shadowhunters had moved toward them, drawn to see what was going on. Some of them met Luke’s gaze head-on; others dropped their eyes, as if ashamed. But none of them, Clary thought with a sudden surge of surprise, looked angry. “I did it to prove a point, Malachi.”

Malachi’s voice was cold. “And what point might that be?”

“That you need us,” Luke said. “To defeat Valentine, you need our help. Not just the help of lycanthropes, but of all Downworlders.”

“What can Downworlders do against Valentine?” Malachi asked scornfully. “Lucian, you know better than that. You were one of us once. We have always stood alone against all perils and guarded the world from evil. We will meet Valentine’s power now with a power of our own. The Downworlders would do well to stay out of our way. We are Nephilim; we fight our own battles.”

“That’s not precisely true, is it?” said a velvety voice. It was Magnus Bane, wearing a long and glittering coat, multiple hoops in his ears, and a roguish expression. Clary had no idea where he’d come from. “You lot have used the help of warlocks on more than one occasion in the past, and paid handsomely for it too.”

Malachi scowled. “I don’t remember the Clave inviting you into the Glass City, Magnus Bane.”

“They didn’t,” Magnus said. “Your wards are down.”

“Really?” The Consul’s voice dripped sarcasm. “I hadn’t noticed.”

Magnus looked concerned. “That’s terrible. Someone should have told you.” He glanced at Luke. “Tell him the wards are down.”

Luke looked exasperated. “Malachi, for God’s sake, the Downworlders are strong; we have numbers. I told you, we can help.”

The Consul’s voice rose. “And I told you, we don’t need or want your help!”

“Magnus,” Clary slipped silently to his side and whispered. A small crowd had gathered, watching Luke and the Consul fight; she was fairly sure no one was paying attention to her. “Come talk to me. While they’re all too busy squabbling to notice.”

Magnus gave her a quick questioning look, nodded, and drew her away, cutting through the crowd like a can opener. None of the assembled Shadowhunters or werewolves seemed to want to stand in the way of a six-foot-tall warlock with cat eyes and a manic grin. He hustled her into a quieter corner. “What is it?”

“I got the book.” Clary drew it from the pocket of her bedraggled coat, leaving smeared fingerprints on the ivory cover. “I went to Valentine’s manor. It was in the library like you said. And—” She broke off, thinking of the imprisoned angel. “Never mind.” She offered him the Book of the White. “Here. Take it.”

Magnus plucked the book from her grasp with a long-fingered hand. He flipped through the pages, his eyes widening. “This is even better than I’d heard it was,” he announced gleefully. “I can’t wait to get started on these spells.”

“Magnus!” Clary’s sharp voice brought him back down to earth. “My mom first. You promised.”

“And I abide by my promises.” The warlock nodded gravely.

“There’s something else, too,” she added, thinking of Simon. “Before you go—”

“Clary!” A voice spoke, breathless, at her shoulder. She turned in surprise to see Sebastian standing beside her. He was wearing gear, and it looked right on him somehow, she thought, as if he were born to wear it. Where everyone else looked bloodstained and disheveled, he was unmarked—except for a double line of scratches that ran the length of his left cheek, as if something had clawed at him with a taloned hand. “I was worried about you. I went by Amatis’s house on the way here, but you weren’t there, and she said she hadn’t seen you—”

“Well, I’m fine.” Clary glanced from Sebastian to Magnus, who was holding the Book of the White against his chest. Sebastian’s angular eyebrows were raised. “Are you? Your face—” She reached up to touch his injuries. The scratches were still oozing a trace amount of blood.

Sebastian shrugged, brushing her hand away gently. “A she-demon got me near the Penhallows’. I’m fine, though. What’s going on?”

“Nothing. I was just talking to Ma—Ragnor,” Clary said hastily, realizing with a sudden horror that Sebastian had no idea who Magnus actually was.

“Maragnor?” Sebastian arched his eyebrows. “Okay, then.” He glanced curiously at the Book of the White. Clary wished Magnus would put it away—the way he was holding it, its gilded lettering was clearly visible. “What’s that?”

Magnus studied him for a moment, his cat eyes considering. “A spell book,” he said finally. “Nothing that would be of interest to a Shadowhunter.”

“Actually, my aunt collects spell books. Can I see?” Sebastian held his hand out, but before Magnus could refuse, Clary heard someone call her name, and Jace and Alec descended on them, clearly none too pleased to see Sebastian.

“I thought I told you to stay with Max and Isabelle!” Alec snapped at him. “Did you leave them alone?”

Slowly Sebastian’s eyes moved from Magnus to Alec. “Your parents came home, just like you said they would.” His voice was cold. “They sent me ahead to tell you they are all right, and so are Izzy and Max. They’re on their way.”

“Well,” said Jace, his voice heavy with sarcasm, “thanks for passing on that news the second you got here.”

“I didn’t see you the second I got here,” said Sebastian. “I saw Clary.”

“Because you were looking for her.”

“Because I needed to talk to her. Alone.” He caught Clary’s eyes again, and the intensity in them gave her pause. She wanted to tell him not to look at her like that when Jace was there, but that would sound unreasonable and crazy; and besides, maybe he actually had something important to tell her. “Clary?”

She nodded. “All right. Just for a second,” she said, and saw Jace’s expression change: He didn’t scowl, but his face went very still. “I’ll be right back,” she added, but Jace didn’t look at her. He was looking at Sebastian.

Sebastian took her by the wrist and drew her away from the others, pulling her toward the thickest part of the crowd. She glanced back over her shoulder. They were all watching her, even Magnus. She saw him shake his head once, very slightly.

She dug her heels in. “Sebastian. Stop. What is it? What do you have to tell me?”

He turned to face her, still holding her wrist. “I thought we could go outside,” he said. “Talk in private—”

“No. I want to stay here,” she said, and heard her own voice waver slightly, as if she weren’t sure. But she was sure. She yanked her wrist back, pulling it out of his grasp. “What is going on with you?”

“That book,” he said. “That Fell was holding—the Book of the White—do you know where he got it?”

“That’s what you wanted to talk to me about?”

“It’s an extraordinarily powerful spell book,” explained Sebastian. “And one that—well, that a lot of people have been looking for for a long time.”

She blew out an exasperated breath. “All right, Sebastian, look,” she said. “That’s not Ragnor Fell. That’s Magnus Bane.”

“That’s Magnus Bane?” Sebastian spun around and stared before turning back to Clary with an accusatory look in his eyes. “And you knew all along, right? You know Bane.”

“Yes, and I’m sorry. But he didn’t want me to tell you. And he was the only one who could help me save my mother. That’s why I gave him the Book of the White. There’s a spell in there that might help her.”

Something flashed behind Sebastian’s eyes, and Clary had the same feeling she’d had after he’d kissed her: a sudden wrench of wrongness, as if she’d taken a step forward expecting to find solid ground under her feet and instead plunged into empty space. His hand shot out and grabbed her wrist. “You gave the book—the Book of the White—to a warlock? A filthy Downworlder?”

Clary went very still. “I can’t believe you just said that.” She looked down at the place where Sebastian’s hand encircled her wrist. “Magnus is my friend.”

Sebastian loosened his grip on her wrist, just a fraction. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I shouldn’t have said that. It’s just—how well do you know Magnus Bane?”

“Better than I know you,” Clary said coldly. She glanced back toward the place she’d left Magnus standing with Jace and Alec—and a shock of surprise went through her. Magnus was gone. Jace and Alec stood by themselves, watching her and Sebastian. She could sense the heat of Jace’s disapproval like an open oven.

Sebastian followed her gaze, his eyes darkening. “Well enough to know where he went with your book?”

“It’s not my book. I gave it to him,” Clary snapped. “And I don’t see what business it is of yours, either. Look, I appreciate that you offered to help me find Ragnor Fell yesterday, but you’re really freaking me out now. I’m going back to my friends.”

She started to turn away, but he moved to block her. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said what I did. It’s just—there’s more to all this than you know.”

“So tell me.”

“Come outside with me. I’ll tell you everything.” His tone was anxious, worried. “Clary, please.”

She shook her head. “I have to stay here. I have to wait for Simon.” It was partly true, and partly an excuse. “Alec told me they’d be bringing the prisoners here—”

Sebastian was shaking his head. “Clary, didn’t anyone tell you? They left the prisoners behind. I heard Malachi say so. The city was attacked, and they evacuated the Gard, but they didn’t get the prisoners out. Malachi said they were both in league with Valentine anyway. That there was no way letting them out wouldn’t be too much of a risk.”

Clary’s head seemed to be full of fog; she felt dizzy, and a little sick. “That can’t be true.”

“It is true,” Sebastian said. “I swear it is.” His grip on Clary’s wrist tightened again, and she swayed on her feet. “I can take you up there. Up to the Gard. I can help you get him out. But you have to promise me that you’ll—”

“She doesn’t have to promise you anything,” Jace said. “Let her go, Sebastian.”

Sebastian, startled, loosened his grip on Clary’s wrist. She pulled it free, turning to see Jace and Alec, both scowling. Jace’s hand was resting lightly on the hilt of the seraph blade at his waist.

“Clary can do what she wants,” Sebastian said. He wasn’t scowling, but there was an odd, fixed look about his face that was somehow worse. “And right now she wants to come with me to save her friend. The friend you got thrown in prison.”

Alec blanched at that, but Jace only shook his head. “I don’t like you,” he said thoughtfully. “I know everyone else likes you, Sebastian, but I don’t. Maybe it’s that you work so hard to make people like you. Maybe I’m just a contrary bastard. But I don’t like you, and I don’t like the way you were grabbing at my sister. If she wants to go up to the Gard and look for Simon, fine. She’ll go with us. Not you.” Copyright 2016 - 2024