“Yeah, well, you clearly also couldn’t be bothered to call me and tell me you were shacking up with some dyed-blond wannabe goth you probably met at Pandemonium,” Simon pointed out sourly. “After I spent the past three days wondering if you were dead.”
“I was not shacking up,” Clary said, glad of the darkness as the blood rushed to her face.
“And my hair is naturally blond,” said Jace. “Just for the record.”
“So what have you been doing these past three days, then?” Simon said, his eyes dark with suspicion. “Do you really have a great-aunt Matilda who contracted avian flu and needed to be nursed back to health?”
“Did Luke actually say that?”
“No. He just said you had gone to visit a sick relative, and that your phone probably just didn’t work out in the country. Not that I believed him. After he shooed me off his front porch, I went around the side of the house and looked in the back window. Watched him packing up a green duffel bag like he was going away for the weekend. That was when I decided to stick around and keep an eye on things.”
“Why? Because he was packing a bag?”
“He was packing it full of weapons,” Simon said, scrubbing at the blood on his cheek with the sleeve of his T-shirt. “Knives, a couple daggers, even a sword. Funny thing is, some of the weapons looked like they were glowing.” He looked from Clary to Jace, and back again. His tone was edged as sharply as one of Luke’s knives. “Now, are you going to say I was imagining it?”
“No,” Clary said. “I’m not going to say that.” She glanced at Jace. The last light of sunset struck gold sparks from his eyes. She said, “I’m going to tell him the truth.”
“Are you going to try to stop me?”
He looked down at the stele in his hand. “My oath to the Covenant binds me,” he said. “No such oath binds you.”
She turned back to Simon, taking a deep breath. “All right,” she said. “Here’s what you have to know.”
The sun had slipped entirely past the horizon, and the porch was in darkness by the time Clary stopped speaking. Simon had listened to her lengthy explanation with a nearly impassive expression, only wincing a little when she got to the part about the Ravener demon. When she was done speaking, she cleared her dry throat, suddenly dying for a glass of water. “So,” she said, “any questions?”
Simon held up his hand. “Oh, I’ve got questions. Several.”
Clary exhaled warily. “Okay, shoot.”
He pointed at Jace. “Now, he’s a—what do you call people like him again?”
“He’s a Shadowhunter,” Clary said.
“A demon hunter,” Jace clarified. “I kill demons. It’s not that complicated, really.”
Simon looked at Clary again. “For real?” His eyes were narrowed, as if he half-expected her to tell him that none of it was true and Jace was actually a dangerous escaped lunatic she’d decided to befriend on humanitarian grounds.
There was an intent look on Simon’s face. “And there are vampires, too? Werewolves, warlocks, all that stuff?”
Clary gnawed her lower lip. “So I hear.”
“And you kill them, too?” Simon asked, directing the question to Jace, who had put the stele back in his pocket and was examining his flawless nails for defects.
“Only when they’ve been naughty.”
For a moment Simon merely sat and stared down at his feet. Clary wondered if burdening him with this kind of information had been the wrong thing to do. He had a stronger practical streak than almost anyone else she knew; he might hate knowing something like this, something for which there was no logical explanation. She leaned forward anxiously, just as Simon lifted his head. “That is so awesome,” he said.
Jace looked as startled as Clary felt. “Awesome?”
Simon nodded enthusiastically enough to make the dark curls bounce on his forehead. “Totally. It’s like Dungeons and Dragons, but real.”
Jace was looking at Simon as if he were some bizarre species of insect. “It’s like what?”
“It’s a game,” Clary explained. She felt vaguely embarrassed. “People pretend to be wizards and elves, and they kill monsters and stuff.”
Jace looked stupefied.
Simon grinned. “You’ve never heard of Dungeons and Dragons?”
“I’ve heard of dungeons,” Jace said. “Also dragons. Although they’re mostly extinct.”
Simon looked disappointed. “You’ve never killed a dragon?”
“He’s probably never met a six-foot-tall hot elf-woman in a fur bikini, either,” Clary said irritably. “Lay off, Simon.”
“Real elves are about eight inches tall,” Jace pointed out. “Also, they bite.”
“But vampires are hot, right?” Simon said. “I mean, some of the vampires are babes, aren’t they?”
Clary worried for a moment that Jace might lunge across the porch and throttle Simon senseless. Instead, he considered the question. “Some of them, maybe.”
“Awesome,” Simon repeated. Clary decided she had preferred it when they were fighting.
Jace slid off the porch railing. “So are we going to search the house, or not?”
Simon scrambled to his feet. “I’m game. What are we looking for?”
“We?” said Jace, with a sinister delicacy. “I don’t remember inviting you along.”
“Jace,” Clary said angrily.
The left corner of his mouth curled up. “Just joking.” He stepped aside to leave her a clear path to the door. “Shall we?”
Clary fumbled for the doorknob in the dark. It opened, triggering the porch light, which illuminated the entryway. The door that led into the bookstore was closed; Clary jiggled the knob. “It’s locked.”
“Allow me, mundanes,” said Jace, setting her gently aside. He took his stele out of his pocket and put it to the door. Simon watched him with some resentment. No amount of vampire babes, Clary suspected, was ever going to make him like Jace.
“He’s a piece of work, isn’t he?” Simon muttered. “How do you stand him?”
Simon glanced at her quickly. “How—”
With a click the door swung open. “Here we go,” said Jace, sliding his stele back into his pocket. Clary saw the Mark on the door—just over his head—fade as they passed through it. The back door opened onto a small storage room, the bare walls peeling paint. Cardboard boxes were stacked everywhere, their contents identified with marker scrawls: FICTION, POETRY, COOKING, LOCAL INTEREST, ROMANCE.
“The apartment’s through there.” Clary headed toward the door she’d indicated, at the far end of the room.
Jace caught her arm. “Wait.”
She looked at him nervously. “Is something wrong?”
“I don’t know.” He edged between two narrow stacks of boxes, and whistled. “Clary, you might want to come over here and see this.”
She glanced around. It was dim in the storage room, the only illumination the porch light shining through the window. “It’s so dark—”
Light flared up, bathing the room in a brilliant glow. Simon turned his head aside, blinking. “Ouch.”
Jace chuckled. He was standing on top of a sealed box, his hand raised. Something glowed in his palm, the light escaping through his cupped fingers. “Witchlight,” he said.
Simon muttered something under his breath. Clary was already clambering through the boxes, pushing a way to Jace. He was standing behind a teetering pile of mysteries, the witchlight casting an eerie glow over his face. “Look at that,” he said, indicating a space higher up on the wall.
At first she thought he was pointing at what looked like a pair of ornamental sconces. As her eyes adjusted, she realized they were actually loops of metal attached to short chains, the ends of which were sunk into the wall. “Are those—”
“Manacles,” said Simon, picking his way through the boxes. “That’s, ah …”
“Don’t say ‘kinky.’” Clary shot him a warning look. “This is Luke we’re talking about.”
Jace reached up to run his hand along the inside of one of the metal loops. When he lowered it, his fingers were dusted with red-brown powder. “Blood. And look.” He pointed to the wall right around where the chains were sunk in; the plaster seemed to bulge outward. “Someone tried to yank these things out of the wall. Tried pretty hard, from the looks of it.”
Clary’s heart had begun to beat hard inside her chest. “Do you think Luke is all right?”
Jace lowered the witchlight. “I think we’d better find out.”
The door to the apartment was unlocked. It led into Luke’s living room. Despite the hundreds of books in the store itself, there were hundreds more in the apartment. Bookshelves rose to the ceiling, the volumes on them “double-parked,” one row blocking another. Most were poetry and fiction, with plenty of fantasy and mystery thrown in. Clary remembered plowing through the entirety of The Chronicles of Prydain here, curled up in Luke’s window seat as the sun went down over the East River.
“I think he’s still around,” called Simon, standing in the doorway of Luke’s small kitchenette. “The percolator’s on and there’s coffee here. Still hot.”
Clary peered around the kitchen door. Dishes were stacked in the sink. Luke’s jackets were hung neatly on hooks inside the coat closet. She walked down the hallway and opened the door of his small bedroom. It looked the same as ever, the bed with its gray coverlet and flat pillows unmade, the top of the bureau covered in loose change. She turned away. Some part of her had been absolutely certain that when they walked in they’d find the place torn to pieces, and Luke tied up, injured or worse. Now she didn’t know what to think.
Numbly she crossed the hall to the little guest bedroom where she’d so often stayed when her mother was out of town on business. They’d stay up late watching old horror movies on the flickering black-and-white TV. She even kept a backpack full of extra things here so she didn’t have to lug her stuff back and forth from home.
Kneeling down, she tugged it out from under the bed by its olive-green strap. It was covered with buttons, most of which Simon had given her. GAMERS DO IT BETTER. OTAKU WENCH. STILL NOT KING. Inside were some folded clothes, a few spare pairs of underwear, a hairbrush, even shampoo. Thank God, she thought, and kicked the bedroom door closed. Quickly she changed, stripping off Isabelle’s too-big—and now grass-stained and sweaty—clothes, and pulling on a pair of her own sandblasted cords, soft as worn paper, and a blue tank top with a design of Chinese characters across the front. She tossed Isabelle’s clothes into her backpack, yanked the cord shut, and left the bedroom, the pack bouncing familiarly between her shoulder blades. It was nice to have something of her own again.
She found Jace in Luke’s book-lined office, examining a green duffel bag that lay unzipped across the desk. It was, as Simon had said, full of weapons—sheathed knives, a coiled whip, and something that looked like a razor-edged metal disk.
“It’s a chakram,” said Jace, looking up as Clary came into the room. “A Sikh weapon. You whirl it around your index finger before releasing it. They’re rare and hard to use. Strange that Luke would have one. They used to be Hodge’s weapon of choice, back in the day. Or so he tells me.”
“Luke collects stuff. Art objects. You know,” Clary said, indicating the shelf behind the desk, which was lined with bronze Indian and Russian idols. Her favorite was a statuette of the Indian goddess of destruction, Kali, brandishing a sword and a severed head as she danced with her head thrown back and her eyes slitted closed. To the side of the desk was an antique Chinese screen, carved out of glowing rosewood. “Pretty things.”
Jace moved the chakram aside gingerly. A handful of clothes spilled out of the untied end of Luke’s duffel bag, as if they had been an afterthought. “I think this is yours, by the way.”
He drew out a rectangular object hidden among the clothes: a wooden-framed photograph with a long vertical crack along the glass. The crack threw a network of spidery lines across the smiling faces of Clary, Luke, and her mother. “That is mine,” Clary said, taking it out of his hand.
“It’s cracked,” Jace observed.
“I know. I did that—I smashed it. When I threw it at the Ravener demon.” She looked at him, seeing the dawning realization on his face. “That means Luke’s been back to the apartment since the attack. Maybe even today—”
“He must have been the last person to come through the Portal,” said Jace. “That’s why it took us here. You weren’t thinking of anything, so it sent us to the last place it had been.”
“Nice of Dorothea to tell us he was there,” said Clary.
“He probably paid her off to be quiet. Either that or she trusts him more than she trusts us. Which means he might not be—”
“Guys!” It was Simon, dashing into the office in a panic. “Someone’s coming.”
Clary dropped the photo. “Is it Luke?”
Simon peered back down the hall, then nodded. “It is. But he’s not by himself—there are two men with him.”
“Men?” Jace crossed the room in a few strides, peered through the door, and spat a curse under his breath. “Warlocks.”
Clary stared. “Warlocks? But—”
Shaking his head, Jace backed away from the door. “Is there some other way out of here? A back door?”
Clary shook her head. The sound of footsteps in the hallway was audible now, striking pangs of fear into her chest.