He was looking out of an upper window in what must have been a fairly tall house. If he glanced up, he could see stone eaves and sky beyond. Across the way was another house, not quite as tall as this one, and between them ran a narrow, dark canal, crossed here and there by bridges—the source of the water he’d heard before. The house seemed to be built partway up a hill—below it honey-colored stone houses, clustered along narrow streets, fell away to the edge of a green circle: woods, surrounded by hills that were very far away; from here they resembled long green and brown strips dotted with bursts of autumn colors. Behind the hills rose jagged mountains frosted with snow.
But none of that was what was strange; what was strange was that here and there in the city, placed seemingly at random, rose soaring towers crowned with spires of reflective whitish-silvery material. They seemed to pierce the sky like shining daggers, and Simon realized where he had seen that material before: in the hard, glasslike weapons the Shadowhunters carried, the ones they called seraph blades.
“Those are the demon towers,” Jace said, in response to Simon’s unasked question. “They control the wards that protect the city. Because of them, no demon can enter Alicante.”
The air that came in through the window was cold and clean, the sort of air you never breathed in New York City: It tasted of nothing, not dirt or smoke or metal or other people. Just air. Simon took a deep, unnecessary breath of it before he turned to look at Jace; some human habits died hard. “Tell me,” he said, “that bringing me here was an accident. Tell me this wasn’t somehow all part of you wanting to stop Clary from coming with you.”
Jace didn’t look at him, but his chest rose and fell once, quickly, in a sort of suppressed gasp. “That’s right,” he said. “I created a bunch of Forsaken warriors, had them attack the Institute and kill Madeleine and nearly kill the rest of us, just so that I could keep Clary at home. And lo and behold, my diabolical plan is working.”
“Well, it is working,” Simon said quietly. “Isn’t it?”
“Listen, vampire,” Jace said. “Keeping Clary from Idris was the plan. Bringing you here was not the plan. I brought you through the Portal because if I’d left you behind, bleeding and unconscious, the Forsaken would have killed you.”
“You could have stayed behind with me—”
“They would have killed us both. I couldn’t even tell how many of them there were, not with the hellmist. Even I can’t fight off a hundred Forsaken.”
“And yet,” Simon said, “I bet it pains you to admit that.”
“You’re an ass,” Jace said, without inflection, “even for a Downworlder. I saved your life and I broke the Law to do it. Not for the first time, I might add. You could show a little gratitude.”
“Gratitude?” Simon felt his fingers curl in against his palms. “If you hadn’t dragged me to the Institute, I wouldn’t be here. I never agreed to this.”
“You did,” said Jace, “when you said you’d do anything for Clary. This is anything.”
Before Simon could snap back an angry retort, there was a knock on the door. “Hello?” Isabelle called from the other side. “Simon, is your diva moment over? I need to talk to Jace.”
“Come in, Izzy.” Jace didn’t take his eyes off Simon; there was an electric anger in his gaze, and a sort of challenge that made Simon long to hit him with something heavy. Like a pickup truck.
Isabelle entered the room in a swirl of black hair and tiered silvery skirts. The ivory corset top she wore left her arms and shoulders, twined with inky runes, bare. Simon supposed it was a nice change of pace for her to be able to show her Marks off in a place where no one would think them out of the ordinary.
“Alec’s going up to the Gard,” Isabelle said without preamble. “He wants to talk to you about Simon before he leaves. Can you come downstairs?”
“Sure.” Jace headed for the door; halfway there, he realized Simon was following him and turned with a glower. “You stay here.”
“No,” Simon said. “If you’re going to be discussing me, I want to be there for it.”
For a moment it looked as if Jace’s icy calm was about to snap; he flushed and opened his mouth, his eyes flashing. Just as quickly, the anger vanished, tamped down by an obvious act of will. He gritted his teeth and smiled. “Fine,” he said. “Come on downstairs, vampire. You can meet the whole happy family.”
The first time Clary had gone through a Portal, there had been a sense of flying, of weightless tumbling. This time it was like being thrust into the heart of a tornado. Howling winds tore at her, ripped her hand from Luke’s and the scream from her mouth. She fell whirling through the heart of a black and gold maelstrom.
Something flat and hard and silvery like the surface of a mirror rose up in front of her. She plunged toward it, shrieking, throwing her hands up to cover her face. She struck the surface and broke through, into a world of brutal cold and gasping suffocation. She was sinking through a thick blue darkness, trying to breathe, but she couldn’t draw air into her lungs, only more of the freezing coldness—
Suddenly she was seized by the back of her coat and hauled upward. She kicked feebly but was too weak to break the hold on her. It drew her up, and the indigo darkness around her turned to pale blue and then to gold as she broke the surface of the water—it was water—and sucked in a gasp of air. Or tried to. Instead she choked and gagged, black spots dotting her vision. She was being dragged through the water, fast, weeds catching and tugging at her legs and arms—she twisted around in the grip that held her and caught a terrifying glimpse of something, not quite wolf and not quite human, ears as pointed as daggers and lips drawn back from sharp white teeth. She tried to scream, but only water came up.
A moment later she was out of the water and being flung onto damp hard-packed earth. There were hands on her shoulders, slamming her facedown against the ground. The hands struck her back, over and over, until her chest spasmed and she coughed up a bitter stream of water.
She was still choking when the hands rolled her onto her back. She was looking up at Luke, a black shadow against a high blue sky touched with white clouds. The gentleness she was used to seeing in his expression was gone; he was no longer wolflike, but he looked furious. He hauled her into a sitting position, shaking her hard, over and over, until she gasped and struck out at him weakly. “Luke! Stop it! You’re hurting me—”
His hands left her shoulders. He grabbed her chin in one hand instead, forcing her head up, his eyes searching her face. “The water,” he said. “Did you cough up all the water?”
“I think so,” she whispered. Her voice came faintly from her swollen throat.