When he straightened up and looked around, he realized he was now regarding the valley from a different angle than he had been in the tracking vision. There was the gnarled copse of trees, their branches intertwining, the valley walls rising all around, and there was the small house. Its windows were dark now, and no smoke rose out of the chimney. Jace felt a mingled stab of relief and disappointment. It would be easier to search the house if no one was in it. On the other hand, no one was in it.
As he approached, he wondered what about the house in the vision had seemed eerie. Up close, it was just an ordinary Idris farmhouse, made of squares of white and gray stone. The shutters had once been painted a bright blue, but it looked as if it had been years since anyone had repainted them. They were pale and peeling with age.
Reaching one of the windows, Jace hoisted himself onto the sill and peered through the cloudy pane. He saw a big, slightly dusty room with a workbench of sorts running along one wall. The tools on it weren’t anything you’d do handiwork with—they were a warlock’s tools: stacks of smeared parchment; black, waxy candles; fat copper bowls with dried dark liquid stuck to the rims; an assortment of knives, some as thin as awls, some with wide square blades. A pentagram was chalked on the floor, its outlines blurred, each of its five points decorated with a different rune. Jace’s stomach tightened—the runes looked like the ones that had been carved around Ithuriel’s feet. Could Valentine have done this—could these be his things? Was this his hideaway—a hideaway Jace had never visited or known about?
Jace slid off the sill, landing in a dry patch of grass—just as a shadow passed across the face of the moon. But there were no birds here, he thought, and glanced up just in time to see a raven wheeling overhead. He froze, then stepped hastily into the shadow of a tree and peered up through its branches. As the raven dipped closer to the ground, Jace knew his first instinct had been right. This wasn’t just any raven—this was Hugo, the raven that had once been Hodge’s; Hodge had used him on occasion to carry messages outside the Institute. Since then Jace had learned that Hugo had originally been his father’s.
Jace pressed himself closer to the tree trunk. His heart was pounding again, this time with excitement. If Hugo was here, it could only mean that he was carrying a message, and this time the message wouldn’t be for Hodge. It would be for Valentine. It had to be. If Jace could only manage to follow him—
Perching on a sill, Hugo peered through one of the house’s windows. Apparently realizing that the house was empty, the bird rose into the air with an irritable caw and flapped off in the direction of the stream.
Jace stepped out from the shadows and set out in pursuit of the raven.
“So, technically,” Simon said, “even though Jace isn’t actually related to you, you have kissed your brother.”
“Simon!” Clary was appalled. “Shut UP.” She spun in her seat to see if anyone was listening, but, fortunately, nobody seemed to be. She was sitting in a high seat on the dais in the Accords Hall, Simon by her side. Her mother stood at the edge of the dais, leaning down to speak to Amatis.
All around them the Hall was chaos as the Downworlders who had come from the North Gate poured in, spilling in through the doors, crowding against the walls. Clary recognized various members of Luke’s pack, including Maia, who grinned across the room at her. There were faeries, pale and cold and lovely as icicles, and warlocks with bat wings and goat feet and even one with antlers, blue fire sparking from their fingertips as they moved through the room. The Shadowhunters milled among them, looking nervous.
Clutching her stele in both hands, Clary looked around anxiously. Where was Luke? He’d vanished into the crowd. She picked him out after a moment, talking with Malachi, who was shaking his head violently. Amatis stood nearby, shooting the Consul dagger glances.
“Don’t make me sorry I ever told you any of this, Simon,” Clary said, glaring at him. She’d done her best to give him a pared-down version of Jocelyn’s tale, mostly hissed under her breath as he’d helped her plow through the crowds to the dais and take her seat there. It was weird being up here, looking down on the room as if she were the queen of all she surveyed. But a queen wouldn’t be nearly so panicked. “Besides. He was a horrible kisser.”
“Or maybe it was just gross, because he was, you know, your brother.” Simon seemed more amused by the whole business than Clary thought he had any right to be.
“Do not say that where my mother can hear you, or I’ll kill you,” she said with a second glare. “I already feel like I’m going to throw up or pass out. Don’t make it worse.”
Jocelyn, returning from the edge of the dais in time to hear Clary’s last words—though, fortunately, not what she and Simon had been discussing—dropped a reassuring pat onto Clary’s shoulder. “Don’t be nervous, baby. You were so great before. Is there anything you need? A blanket, some hot water …”
“I’m not cold,” Clary said patiently, “and I don’t need a bath, either. I’m fine. I just want Luke to come up here and tell me what’s going on.”
Jocelyn waved toward Luke to get his attention, silently mouthing something Clary couldn’t quite decipher. “Mom,” she spat, “don’t,” but it was already too late. Luke glanced up—and so did quite a few of the other Shadowhunters. Most of them looked away just as quickly, but Clary sensed the fascination in their stares. It was weird thinking that her mother was something of a legendary figure here. Just about everyone in the room had heard her name and had some kind of opinion about her, good or bad. Clary wondered how her mother kept it from bothering her. She didn’t look bothered—she looked cool and collected and dangerous.
A moment later Luke had joined them on the dais, Amatis at his side. He still looked tired, but also alert and even a little excited. He said, “Just hang on a second. Everyone’s coming.”
“Malachi,” said Jocelyn, not quite looking directly at Luke while she spoke, “was he giving you trouble?”
Luke made a dismissive gesture. “He thinks we should send a message to Valentine, refusing his terms. I say we shouldn’t tip our hand. Let Valentine show up with his army on Brocelind Plain expecting a surrender. Malachi seemed to think that wouldn’t be sporting, and when I told him war wasn’t an English schoolboy cricket game, he said that if any of the Downworlders here got out of hand, he’d step in and end the whole business. I don’t know what he thinks is going to happen—as if Downworlders can’t stop fighting even for five minutes.”
“That’s exactly what he thinks,” said Amatis. “It’s Malachi. He’s probably worried you’ll start eating each other.”
“Amatis,” Luke said. “Someone might hear you.” He turned, then, as two men mounted the steps behind him. One was a tall, slender faerie knight with long dark hair that fell in sheets on either side of his narrow face. He wore a tunic of white armor: pale, hard metal made of tiny overlapping circles, like the scales of a fish. His eyes were leaf green.
The other man was Magnus Bane. He didn’t smile at Clary as he came to stand beside Luke. He wore a long, dark coat buttoned up to the throat, and his black hair was pulled back from his face.
“You look so plain,” Clary said, staring.
Magnus smiled faintly. “I heard you had a rune to show us,” was all he said.
Clary looked at Luke, who nodded. “Oh, yes,” she said. “I just need something to write on—some paper.”
“I asked you if you needed anything,” Jocelyn said under her breath, sounding very much like the mother Clary remembered.