“Oh,” Clary said. There didn’t seem to be much else to say. “How many other worlds are there?”
“No one knows. Hundreds? Millions, maybe.”
“And they’re all—dead worlds? Used up?” Clary felt her stomach drop, though it might have been only the jolt as they rolled up and over a purple Mini. “That seems so sad.”
“I didn’t say that.” The dark orangey light of city haze spilled in through the window, outlining his sharp profile. “There are probably other living worlds like ours. But only demons can travel between them. Because they’re mostly noncorporeal, partly, but nobody knows exactly why. Plenty of warlocks have tried it, and it’s never worked. Nothing from Earth can pass through the wardings between the worlds. If we could,” he added, “we might be able to block them from coming here, but nobody’s even been able to figure out how to do that. In fact, more and more of them are coming through. There used to be only small demon invasions into this world, easily contained. But even in my lifetime more and more of them have spilled in through the wardings. The Clave is always having to dispatch Shadowhunters, and a lot of times they don’t come back.”
“But if you had the Mortal Cup, you could make more, right? More demon hunters?” Clary asked tentatively.
“Sure,” Jace said. “But we haven’t had the Cup for years now, and a lot of us die young. So our numbers slowly dwindle.”
“Aren’t you, uh …” Clary searched for the right word. “Reproducing?”
Jace burst out laughing just as the carriage made a sudden, sharp left turn. He braced himself, but Clary was thrown against him. He caught her, hands holding her lightly but firmly away from him. She felt the cool impress of his ring like a sliver of ice against her sweaty skin. “Sure,” he said. “We love reproducing. It’s one of our favorite things.”
Clary pulled away from him, her face burning in the darkness, and turned to look out the window. They were rolling toward a heavy wrought-iron gate, trellised with dark vines.
“We’re here,” announced Jace as the smooth roll of wheels over pavement turned to the jounce of cobblestones. Clary glimpsed words across the arch as they rolled under it: NEW YORK CITY MARBLE CEMETERY.
“But they stopped burying people in Manhattan a century ago because they ran out of room—didn’t they?” she said. They were moving down a narrow alley with high stone walls on either side.
“The Bone City has been here longer than that.” The carriage came to a shuddering halt. Clary jumped as Jace stretched his arm out, but he was only reaching past her to open the door on her side. His arm was lightly muscled and downed with golden hairs fine as pollen.
“You don’t get a choice, do you?” she asked. “About being a Shadowhunter. You can’t just opt out.”
“No,” he said. The door swung open, letting in a blast of muggy air. The carriage had drawn to a stop on a wide square of green grass surrounded by mossy marble walls. “But if I had a choice, this is still what I’d choose.”
He raised an eyebrow, which made Clary instantly jealous. She’d always wanted to be able to do that. “Because,” he said. “It’s what I’m good at.”
He jumped down from the carriage. Clary slid to the edge of her seat, dangling her legs. It was a long drop to the cobblestones. She jumped. The impact stung her feet, but she didn’t fall. She swung around in triumph to find Jace watching her. “I would have helped you down,” he said.
She blinked. “It’s okay. You didn’t have to.”
He glanced behind him. Brother Jeremiah was descending from his perch behind the horses in a silent fall of robes. He cast no shadow on the sun-baked grass.
Come, he said. He glided away from the carriage and the comforting lights of Second Avenue, moving toward the dark center of the garden. It was clear that he expected them to follow.
The grass was dry and crackling underfoot, the marble walls to either side smooth and pearly. There were names carved into the stone of the walls, names and dates. It took Clary a moment to realize that they were grave markers. A chill scraped up her spine. Where were the bodies? In the walls, buried upright as if they’d been walled in alive …?
She had forgotten to look where she was going. When she collided with something unmistakably alive, she yelped out loud.
It was Jace. “Don’t screech like that. You’ll wake the dead.”
She frowned at him. “Why are we stopping?”
He pointed at Brother Jeremiah, who had come to a halt in front of a statue just slightly taller than he was, its base overgrown with moss. The statue was of an angel. The marble of the statue was so smooth it was almost translucent. The face of the angel was fierce and beautiful and sad. In long white hands the angel held a cup, its rim studded with marble jewels. Something about the statue tickled Clary’s memory with an uneasy familiarity. There was a date inscribed on the base, 1234, and words inscribed around it: NEPHILIM: FACILIS DESCENSUS AVERNO.
“Is that meant to be the Mortal Cup?” she asked.
Jace nodded. “And that’s the motto of the Nephilim—the Shadowhunters—there on the base.”
Jace’s grin was a white flash in the darkness. “It means ‘Shadowhunters: Looking Better in Black Than the Widows of our Enemies Since 1234.’”
It means, said Jeremiah, “The descent into Hell is easy.”
“Nice and cheery,” said Clary, but a shiver passed over her skin despite the heat.
“It’s the Brothers’ little joke, having that here,” said Jace. “You’ll see.”
She looked at Brother Jeremiah. He had drawn a stele, faintly glowing, from some inner pocket of his robe, and with the tip he traced the pattern of a rune on the statue’s base. The mouth of the stone angel suddenly gaped wide in a silent scream, and a yawning black hole opened in the grassy turf at Jeremiah’s feet. It looked like an open grave.
Slowly Clary approached the edge of it and peered inside. A set of granite steps led down into the hole, their edges worn soft by years of use. Torches were set along the steps at intervals, flaring hot green and icy blue. The bottom of the stairs was lost in darkness.
Jace took the stairs with the ease of someone who finds a situation familiar if not exactly comfortable. Halfway to the first torch, he paused and looked up at her. “Come on,” he said impatiently.
Clary had barely set her foot on the first step when she felt her arm caught in a cold grip. She looked up in astonishment. Brother Jeremiah was holding her wrist, his icy white fingers digging into the skin. She could see the bony gleam of his scarred face beneath the edge of his cowl.
Do not fear, said his voice inside her head. It would take more than a single human cry to wake these dead.
When he released her arm, she skittered down the stairs after Jace, her heart pounding against her ribs. He was waiting for her at the foot of the steps. He’d taken one of the green burning torches out of its bracket and was holding it at eye level. It lent a pale green cast to his skin. “You all right?”
She nodded, not trusting herself to speak. The stairs ended in a shallow landing; ahead of them stretched a tunnel, long and black, ridged with the curling roots of trees. A faint bluish light was visible at the tunnel’s end. “It’s so … dark,” she said lamely.
“You want me to hold your hand?”
Clary put both her hands behind her back like a small child. “Don’t talk down to me.”
“Well, I could hardly talk up to you. You’re too short.” Jace glanced past her, the torch showering sparks as he moved. “No need to stand on ceremony, Brother Jeremiah,” he drawled. “Lead on. We’ll be right behind you.”
Clary jumped. She still wasn’t used to the archivist’s silent comings and goings. He moved noiselessly from where he had been standing behind her and headed into the tunnel. After a moment she followed, knocking Jace’s outstretched hand aside as she went.
Clary’s first sight of the Silent City was of row upon row of tall marble arches that rose overhead, disappearing into the distance like the orderly rows of trees in an orchard. The marble itself was a pure, ashy ivory, hard and polished-looking, inset in places with narrow strips of onyx, jasper, and jade. As they moved away from the tunnel and toward the forest of arches, Clary saw that the floor was inscribed with the same runes that sometimes decorated Jace’s skin with lines and whorls and swirling patterns.
As the three of them passed through the first arch, something large and white loomed up on her left side, like an iceberg off the bow of the Titanic. It was a block of white stone, smooth and square, with a sort of door inset into the front. It reminded her of a child-size playhouse, almost but not quite big enough for her to stand up inside.
“It’s a mausoleum,” said Jace, directing a flash of torchlight at it. Clary could see that a rune was carved into the door, which was sealed shut with bolts of iron. “A tomb. We bury our dead here.”
“All your dead?” she said, half-wanting to ask him if his father was buried here, but he had already moved ahead, out of earshot. She hurried after him, not wanting to be alone with Brother Jeremiah in this spooky place. “I thought you said this was a library.”
There are many levels to the Silent City, interjected Jeremiah. And not all the dead are buried here. There is another ossuary in Idris, of course, much larger. But on this level are the mausoleums and the place of burning.
“The place of burning?”
Those who die in battle are burned, their ashes used to make the marble arches that you see here. The blood and bone of demon slayers is itself a powerful protection against evil. Even in death, the Clave serves the cause.
How exhausting, Clary thought, to fight all your life and then be expected to continue that fight even when your life was over. At the edges of her vision she could see the square white vaults rising on either side of her in orderly rows of tombs, each door locked from the outside. She understood now why this was called the Silent City: Its only inhabitants were the mute Brothers and the dead they so zealously guarded.
They had reached another staircase leading down into more twilight; Jace thrust the torch ahead of him, streaking the walls with shadows. “We’re going to the second level, where the archives and the council rooms are,” he said, as if to reassure her.
“Where are the living quarters?” Clary asked, partly to be polite, partly out of a real curiosity. “Where do the Brothers sleep?”
The silent word hung in the darkness between them. Jace laughed, and the flame of the torch he held flickered. “You had to ask.”
At the foot of the stairs was another tunnel, which widened out at the end into a square pavilion, each corner of which was marked by a spire of carved bone. Torches burned in long onyx holders along the sides of the square, and the air smelled of ashes and smoke. In the center of the pavilion was a long table of black basalt veined in white. Behind the table, against the dark wall, hung an enormous silver sword, point down, its hilt carved in the shape of outspread wings. Seated at the table was a row of Silent Brothers, each wrapped and cowled in the same parchment-colored robes as Jeremiah.
Jeremiah wasted no time. We have arrived. Clarissa, stand before the Council.
Clary glanced at Jace, but he was blinking, clearly confused. Brother Jeremiah must have spoken only inside her head. She looked at the table, at the long row of silent figures muffled in their heavy robes. Alternating squares made up the pavilion floor: golden bronze and a darker red. Just in front of the table was a larger square, made of black marble and embossed with a parabolic design of silver stars.
Clary stepped into the center of the black square as if she were stepping in front of a firing squad. She raised her head. “All right,” she said. “Now what?”
The Brothers made a sound then, a sound that raised the hairs up all along Clary’s neck and the backs of her arms. It was a sound like a sigh or a groan. In unison they raised their hands and pushed their cowls back, baring their scarred faces and the pits of their empty eyes.
Though she had seen Brother Jeremiah’s uncovered face already, Clary’s stomach knotted. It was like looking at a row of skeletons, like one of those medieval woodcuts where the dead walked and talked and danced on the piled bodies of the living. Their stitched mouths seemed to grin at her.
The Council greets you, Clarissa Fray, she heard, and it was not just one silent voice inside her head but a dozen, some low and rough, some smooth and monotone, but all were demanding, insistent, pushing at the fragile barriers around her mind.
“Stop,” she said, and to her astonishment her voice came out firm and strong. The din inside her mind ceased as suddenly as a record that had stopped spinning. “You can go inside my head,” she said, “but only when I’m ready.”
If you do not want our help, there is no need for this. You are the one who asked for our assistance, after all.
“You want to know what’s in my mind, just like I do,” she said. “That doesn’t mean you can’t be careful about it.”
The Brother who sat in the center seat templed his thin white fingers beneath his chin. It is an interesting puzzle, admittedly, he said, and the voice inside her mind was dry and neutral. But there is no need for the use of force, if you do not resist.
She gritted her teeth. She wanted to resist them, wanted to pry those intrusive voices out of her head. To stand by and allow such a violation of her most intimate, personal self—
But there was every chance that had already happened, she reminded herself. This was nothing more than the excavation of a past crime, the theft of her memory. If it worked, what had been taken from her would be restored. She closed her eyes.