Clary interrupted Hodge before he could reply. “It’s all right. I’ll do it.”
Brother Jeremiah nodded curtly, and moved toward her with the soundlessness that sent chills up her spine. “Will it hurt?” she whispered.
He didn’t reply, but his narrow white hands came up to touch her face. The skin of his fingers was thin as parchment paper, inked all over with runes. She could feel the power in them, jumping like static electricity to sting her skin. She closed her eyes, but not before she saw the anxious expression that crossed Hodge’s face.
Colors swirled up against the darkness behind her eyelids. She felt a pressure, a drawing pull in her head and hands and feet. She clenched her hands, straining against the weight, the blackness. She felt as if she were pressed up against something hard and unyielding, being slowly crushed. She heard herself gasp and went suddenly cold all over, cold as winter. In a flash she saw an icy street, gray buildings looming overhead, an explosion of whiteness stinging her face in freezing particles—
“That’s enough.” Jace’s voice cut through the winter chill, and the falling snow vanished, a shower of white sparks. Clary’s eyes sprang open.
Slowly the library came back into focus—the book-lined walls, the anxious faces of Hodge and Jace. Brother Jeremiah stood unmoving, a carved idol of ivory and red ink. Clary became aware of the sharp pains in her hands, and glanced down to see red lines scored across her skin where her nails had dug in.
“Jace,” Hodge said reprovingly.
“Look at her hands.” Jace gestured toward Clary, who curled her fingers in to cover her injured palms.
Hodge put a broad hand on her shoulder. “Are you all right?”
Slowly she moved her head in a nod. The crushing weight had gone, but she could feel the sweat that drenched her hair, pasted her shirt to her back like sticky tape.
There is a block in your mind, said Brother Jeremiah. Your memories cannot be reached.
“A block?” asked Jace. “You mean she’s repressed her memories?”
No. I mean they have been blocked from her conscious mind by a spell. I cannot break it here. She will have to come to the Bone City and stand before the Brotherhood.
“A spell?” said Clary incredulously. “Who would have put a spell on me?”
Nobody answered her. Jace looked at his tutor. He was surprisingly pale, Clary thought, considering that this had been his idea. “Hodge, she shouldn’t have to go if she doesn’t—”
“It’s all right.” Clary took a deep breath. Her palms ached where her nails had cut them, and she wanted badly to lie down somewhere dark and rest. “I’ll go. I want to know the truth. I want to know what’s in my head.”
Jace nodded once. “Fine. Then I’ll go with you.”
Leaving the Institute was like climbing into a wet, hot canvas bag. Humid air pressed down on the city, turning the air to grimy soup. “I don’t see why we have to leave separately from Brother Jeremiah,” Clary grumbled. They were standing on the corner outside the Institute. The streets were deserted except for a garbage truck trundling slowly down the block. “What, is he embarrassed to be seen with Shadowhunters or something?”
“The Brotherhood are Shadowhunters,” Jace pointed out. Somehow he managed to look cool despite the heat. It made Clary want to smack him.
“I suppose he went to get his car?” she inquired sarcastically.
Jace grinned. “Something like that.”
She shook her head. “You know, I’d feel a lot better about this if Hodge had come with us.”
“What, I’m not protection enough for you?”
“It’s not protection I need right now—it’s someone who can help me think.” Suddenly reminded, she clapped a hand over her mouth. “Oh—simon!”
“No, I’m Jace,” said Jace patiently. “Simon is the weaselly little one with the bad haircut and dismal fashion sense.”
“Oh, shut up,” she replied, but it was more automatic than heartfelt. “I meant to call before I went to sleep. See if he got home okay.”
Shaking his head, Jace regarded the heavens as if they were about to open up and reveal the secrets of the universe. “With everything that’s going on, you’re worried about Weasel Face?”
“Don’t call him that. He doesn’t look like a weasel.”
“You may be right,” said Jace. “I’ve met an attractive weasel or two in my time. He looks more like a rat.”
“He’s probably at home lying in a puddle of his own drool. Just wait till Isabelle gets bored with him and you have to pick up the pieces.”
“Is Isabelle likely to get bored with him?” Clary asked.
Jace thought about this. “Yes,” he said.
Clary wondered if perhaps Isabelle was smarter than Jace gave her credit for. Maybe she would realize what an amazing guy Simon was: how funny, how smart, how cool. Maybe they’d start dating. The idea filled her with a nameless horror.
Lost in thought, it took her several moments to realize that Jace had been saying something to her. When she blinked at him, she saw a wry grin spread across his face. “What?” she asked, ungraciously.
“I wish you’d stop desperately trying to get my attention like this,” he said. “It’s become embarrassing.”
“Sarcasm is the last refuge of the imaginatively bankrupt,” she told him.
“I can’t help it. I use my rapier wit to hide my inner pain.”
“Your pain will be outer soon if you don’t get out of traffic. Are you trying to get run over by a cab?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said. “We could never get a cab that easily in this neighborhood.”
As if on cue, a narrow black car with tinted windows rumbled up to the curb and paused in front of Jace, engine purring. It was long and sleek and low to the ground like a limousine, the windows curved outward.
Jace looked at her sideways; there was amusement in his glance, but also a certain urgency. She glanced at the car again, letting her gaze relax, letting the strength of what was real pierce the veil of glamour.
Now the car looked like Cinderella’s carriage, except instead of being pink and gold and blue like an Easter egg, it was black as velvet, its windows darkly tinted. The wheels were black, the leather trimmings all black. On the black metal driver’s bench sat Brother Jeremiah, holding a set of reins in his gloved hands. His face was hidden beneath the cowl of his parchment-colored robe. On the other end of the reins were two horses, black as smoke, snarling and pawing at the sky.
“Get in,” said Jace. When she continued to stand there gaping, he took her arm and half-pushed her in through the open door of the carriage, swinging himself up after her. The carriage began to move before he had closed the door behind them. He fell back in his seat—plush and glossily upholstered—and looked over at her. “A personal escort to the Bone City is nothing to turn your nose up at.”
“I wasn’t turning my nose up. I was just surprised. I wasn’t expecting … I mean, I thought it was a car.”
“Just relax,” said Jace. “Enjoy that new-carriage smell.”
Clary rolled her eyes and turned to look out the windows. She would have thought that a horse and carriage wouldn’t have stood a chance in Manhattan traffic, but they were moving downtown easily, their soundless progression unnoticed by the snarl of taxis, buses, and SUVs that choked the avenue. In front of them a yellow cab switched lanes, cutting off their forward progress. Clary tensed, worried about the horses—then the carriage lurched upward as the horses sprang lightly to the top of the cab. She choked off a gasp. The carriage, rather than dragging along the ground, sailed up behind the horses, rolling lightly and soundlessly up and over the cab’s roof and down the other side. Clary glanced backward as the carriage hit the pavement again with a jolt—the cab driver was smoking and staring ahead, utterly oblivious. “I always thought cab drivers didn’t pay attention to traffic, but this is ridiculous,” she said weakly.
“Just because you can see through glamour now …” Jace let the end of the sentence hang delicately in the air between them.
“I can only see through it when I concentrate,” she said. “It hurts my head a little.”
“I bet that’s because of the block in your mind. The Brothers will take care of that.”
“Then you’ll see the world as it is—infinite,” said Jace with a dry smile.
“Don’t quote Blake at me.”
The smile turned less dry. “I didn’t think you’d recognize it. You don’t strike me as someone who reads a lot of poetry.”
“Everyone knows that quote because of the Doors.”
Jace looked at her blankly.
“The Doors. They were a band.”
“If you say so,” he said.
“I suppose you don’t have much time for enjoying music,” Clary said, thinking of Simon, for whom music was his entire life, “in your line of work.”
He shrugged. “Maybe the occasional wailing chorus of the damned.”
Clary looked at him quickly, to see if he was joking, but he was expressionless.
“But you were playing the piano yesterday,” she began, “at the Institute. So you must—”
The carriage lurched upward again. Clary grabbed at the edge of her seat and stared—they were rolling along the top of a downtown M1 bus. From this vantage point she could see the upper floors of the old apartment buildings that lined the avenue, elaborately carved with gargoyles and ornamental cornices.
“I was just messing around,” said Jace, without looking at her. “My father insisted I learn to play an instrument.”
“He sounds strict, your father.”
Jace’s tone was sharp. “Not at all. He indulged me. He taught me everything—weapons training, demonology, arcane lore, ancient languages. He gave me anything I wanted. Horses, weapons, books, even a hunting falcon.”
But weapons and books aren’t exactly what most kids want for Christmas, Clary thought as the carriage thunked back down to the pavement. “Why didn’t you mention to Hodge that you knew the men that Luke was talking to? That they were the ones who killed your dad?”
Jace looked down at his hands. They were slim and careful hands, the hands of an artist, not a warrior. The ring she had noticed earlier flashed on his finger. She would have thought there would have been something feminine about a boy wearing a ring, but there wasn’t. The ring itself was solid and heavy-looking, made of a dark burned-looking silver with a pattern of stars around the band. The letter W was carved into it. “Because if I did,” he said, “he’d know I wanted to kill Valentine myself. And he’d never let me try.”
“You mean you want to kill him for revenge?”
“For justice,” said Jace. “I never knew who killed my father. Now I do. This is my chance to make it right.”
Clary didn’t see how killing one person could make right the death of another, but she sensed there was no point saying that. “But you knew who killed him,” she said. “It was those men. You said …”
Jace wasn’t looking at her, so Clary let her voice trail off. They were rolling through Astor Place now, narrowly dodging a purple New York University tram as it cut through traffic. Passing pedestrians looked crushed by the heavy air, like insects pinned under glass. Some groups of homeless kids were crowded around the base of a big brass statue, folded cardboard signs asking for money propped up in front of them. Clary saw a girl about her own age with a smoothly shaved bald head leaning against a brown-skinned boy with dreadlocks, his face adorned with a dozen piercings. He turned his head as the carriage rolled by as if he could see it, and she caught the gleam of his eyes. One of them was clouded, as though it had no pupil.
“I was ten,” Jace said. She turned to look at him. He was without expression. It always seemed like some color drained out of him when he talked about his father. “We lived in a manor house, out in the country. My father always said it was safer away from people. I heard them coming up the drive and went to tell him. He told me to hide, so I hid. Under the stairs. I saw those men come in. They had others with them. Not men. Forsaken. They overpowered my father and cut his throat. The blood ran across the floor. It soaked my shoes. I didn’t move.”
It took a moment for Clary to realize he was done speaking, and another to find her voice. “I’m so sorry, Jace.”
His eyes gleamed in the darkness. “I don’t understand why mundanes always apologize for things that aren’t their fault.”
“I’m not apologizing. It’s a way of—empathizing. Of saying that I’m sorry you’re unhappy.”
“I’m not unhappy,” he said. “Only people with no purpose are unhappy. I’ve got a purpose.”
“Do you mean killing demons, or getting revenge for your father’s death?”
“Would your father really want you to kill those men? Just for revenge?”
“A Shadowhunter who kills another of his brothers is worse than a demon and should be put down like one,” Jace said, sounding as if he were reciting the words from a textbook.
“But are all demons evil?” she said. “I mean, if all vampires aren’t evil, and all werewolves aren’t evil, maybe—”
Jace turned on her, looking exasperated. “It’s not the same thing at all. Vampires, werewolves, even warlocks, they’re part human. Part of this world, born in it. They belong here. But demons come from other worlds. They’re interdimensional parasites. They come to a world and use it up. They can’t build, just destroy—they can’t make, only use. They drain a place to ashes and when it’s dead, they move on to the next one. It’s life they want—not just your life or mine, but all the life of this world, its rivers and cities, its oceans, its everything. And the only thing that stands between them and the destruction of all this”—he pointed outside the window of the carriage, waving his hand as if he meant to indicate everything in the city from the skyscrapers uptown to the clog of traffic on Houston Street—“is the Nephilim.”