“Go ahead,” she said.
The first contact came as a whisper inside her head, delicate as the brush of a falling leaf. State your name for the Council.
The first voice was joined by others. Who are you?
I’m Clary. My mother is Jocelyn Fray. I live at 807 Berkeley Place in Brooklyn. I am fifteen years old. My father’s name was—
Her mind seemed to snap in on itself, like a rubber band, and she reeled soundlessly into a whirlwind of images cast against the insides of her closed eyelids. Her mother was hurrying her down a night-black street between piles of heaped and dirty snow. Then a lowering sky, gray and leaden, rows of black trees stripped bare. An empty square cut into the earth, a plain coffin lowered into it. Ashes to ashes. Jocelyn wrapped in her patchwork quilt, tears spilling down her cheeks, quickly closing a box and shoving it under a cushion as Clary came into the room. She saw the initials on the box again: J. C.
The images came faster now, like the pages of one of those books where the drawings seemed to move when you flipped them. Clary stood on top of a flight of stairs, looking down a narrow corridor, and there was Luke again, his green duffel bag at his feet. Jocelyn stood in front of him, shaking her head. “Why now, Lucian? I thought that you were dead …” Clary blinked; Luke looked different, almost a stranger, bearded, his hair long and tangled—and branches came down to block her view; she was in the park again, and green faeries, tiny as toothpicks, buzzed among the red flowers. She reached for one in delight, and her mother swung her up into her arms with a cry of terror. Then it was winter on the black street again, and they were hurrying, huddled under an umbrella, Jocelyn half-pushing and half-dragging Clary between the looming banks of snow. A granite doorway loomed up out of the falling whiteness; there were words carved above the door: THE MAGNIFICENT. Then she was standing inside an entryway that smelled of iron and melting snow. Her fingers were numb with cold. A hand under her chin directed her to look up, and she saw a row of words scrawled along the wall. Two words leaped out at her, burning into her eyes: MAGNUS BANE.
She sat up gingerly. The skin over her left elbow was split and bleeding. She must have landed on it when she fell. There was blood on her shirt. She looked around, disoriented, and saw Jace looking at her, unmoving but very tense around the mouth.
Magnus Bane. The words meant something, but what? Before she could ask the question aloud, Jeremiah interrupted her.
The block inside your mind is stronger than we had anticipated, he said. It can be safely undone only by the one who put it there. For us to remove it would be to kill you.
She scrambled to her feet, cradling her injured arm. “But I don’t know who put it there. If I knew that, I wouldn’t have come here.”
The answer to that is woven into the thread of your thoughts, said Brother Jeremiah. In your waking dream you saw it written.
“Magnus Bane? But—that’s not even a name!”
It is enough. Brother Jeremiah got to his feet. As if this were a signal, the rest of the Brothers rose alongside him. They inclined their heads toward Jace, a gesture of silent acknowledgment, before they filed away among the pillars and were gone. Only Brother Jeremiah remained. He watched impassively as Jace hurried over to Clary.
“Is your arm all right? Let me see,” he demanded, seizing her wrist.
“Ouch! It’s fine. Don’t do that; you’re making it worse,” Clary said, trying to pull away.
“You bled on the Speaking Stars,” he said. Clary looked and saw that he was right: There was a smear of her blood on the white and silver marble. “I bet there’s a law somewhere about that.” He turned her arm over, more gently than she would have thought he was capable of. He caught his lower lip between his teeth and whistled; she glanced down and saw that a glove of blood covered her lower arm from the elbow to the wrist. The arm was throbbing, stiff, and painful.
“Is this when you start tearing strips off your T-shirt to bind up my wound?” she joked. She hated the sight of blood, especially her own.
“If you wanted me to rip my clothes off, you should have just asked.” He dug into his pocket and brought out his stele. “It would have been a lot less painful.”
Remembering the stinging sensation when the stele had touched her wrist, she braced herself, but all she felt as the glowing instrument glided lightly over her injury was a faint warmth. “There,” he said, straightening up. Clary flexed her arm in wonder—though the blood was still there, the wound was gone, as were the pain and stiffness. “And next time you’re planning to injure yourself to get my attention, just remember that a little sweet talk works wonders.”
Clary felt her mouth twitch into a smile. “I’ll keep that in mind,” she said. And as he turned away, she added, “And thanks.”
He slid the stele into his back pocket without turning to look at her, but she thought she saw a certain gratification in the set of his shoulders. “Brother Jeremiah,” he said, rubbing his hands together, “you’ve been very quiet all this time. Surely you have some thoughts you’d like to share?”
I am charged with leading you from the Silent City, and that is all, said the archivist. Clary wondered if she were imagining it, or if there was actually a faintly affronted tone to his “voice.”
“We could always show ourselves out,” Jace suggested hopefully. “I’m sure I remember the way—”
The marvels of the Silent City are not for the eyes of the uninitiated, said Jeremiah, and he turned his back on them with a soundless swish of robes. This way.
When they emerged into the open, Clary took deep breaths of the thick morning air, relishing the city stench of smog, dirt, and humanity. Jace looked around thoughtfully. “It’s going to rain,” he said.
He was right, Clary thought, looking up at the iron-gray sky. “Are we taking a carriage back to the Institute?”
Jace looked from Brother Jeremiah, still as a statue, to the carriage, looming like a black shadow in the archway that led to the street. Then he broke into a grin.
“No way,” he said. “I hate those things. Let’s hail a cab.”
JACE LEANED FORWARD AND BANGED HIS HAND AGAINST THE partition separating them from the cab driver. “Turn left! Left! I said to take Broadway, you brain-dead moron!”
The taxi driver responded by jerking the wheel so hard to the left that Clary was thrown against Jace. She let out a yelp of resentment. “Why are we taking Broadway, anyway?”
“I’m starving,” Jace said. “And there’s nothing at home except leftover Chinese.” He took his phone out of his pocket and started dialing. “Alec! Wake up!” he shouted. Clary could hear an irritated buzzing on the other end. “Meet us at Taki’s. Breakfast. Yeah, you heard me. Breakfast. What? It’s only a few blocks away. Get going.”
He clicked off and shoved the phone into one of his many pockets as they pulled up to a curb. Handing the driver a wad of bills, Jace elbowed Clary out of the car. When he landed on the pavement behind her, he stretched like a cat and spread his arms wide. “Welcome to the greatest restaurant in New York.”
It didn’t look like much—a low brick building that sagged in the middle like a collapsed soufflé. A battered neon sign proclaiming the restaurant’s name hung sideways and was sputtering. Two men in long coats and tipped-forward felt hats slouched in front of the narrow doorway. There were no windows.
“It looks like a prison,” said Clary.
He pointed at her. “But in prison could you order a spaghetti fra diavolo that makes you want to kiss your fingers? I don’t think so.”
“I don’t want spaghetti. I want to know what a Magnus Bane is.”
“It’s not a what. It’s a who,” said Jace. “It’s a name.”
“Do you know who he is?”
“He’s a warlock,” said Jace in his most reasonable voice. “Only a warlock could have put a block in your mind like that. Or maybe one of the Silent Brothers, but clearly it wasn’t them.”
“Is he a warlock you’ve heard of?” demanded Clary, who was rapidly tiring of Jace’s reasonable voice.
“The name does sound familiar—”
“Hey!” It was Alec, looking like he’d rolled out of bed and pulled jeans on over his pajamas. His hair, unbrushed, stuck out wildly around his head. He loped toward them, eyes on Jace, ignoring Clary as usual. “Izzy’s on her way,” he said. “She’s bringing the mundane.”
“Simon? Where did he come from?” Jace asked.
“He showed up first thing this morning. Couldn’t stay away from Izzy, I guess. Pathetic.” Alec sounded amused. Clary wanted to kick him. “Anyway, are we going in or what? I’m starving.”
“Me too,” said Jace. “I could really go for some fried mouse tails.”
“Some what?” asked Clary, sure that she’d heard wrong.
Jace grinned at her. “Relax,” he said. “It’s just a diner.”
They were stopped at the front door by one of the slouching men. As he straightened, Clary caught a glimpse of his face under the hat. His skin was dark red, his squared-off hands ending in blue-black nails. Clary felt herself stiffen, but Jace and Alec seemed unconcerned. They said something to the man, who nodded and stepped back, allowing them to pass.
“Jace,” Clary hissed as the door shut behind them. “Who was that?”
“You mean Clancy?” Jace asked, glancing around the brightly lit restaurant. It was pleasant inside, despite the lack of windows. Cozy wooden booths nestled up against each other, each one lined with brightly colored cushions. Endearingly mismatched crockery lined the counter, behind which stood a blond girl in a waitress’s pink-and-white apron, nimbly counting out change to a stocky man in a flannel shirt. She saw Jace, waved, and gestured that they should sit wherever they wanted. “Clancy keeps out undesirables,” said Jace, herding her to one of the booths.
“He’s a demon,” she hissed. Several customers turned to look at her—a boy with spiky blue dreads was sitting next to a beautiful Indian girl with long black hair and gauzelike golden wings sprouting from her back. The boy frowned darkly. Clary was glad the restaurant was almost empty.
“No, he isn’t,” said Jace, sliding into a booth. Clary moved to sit beside him, but Alec was already there. She settled gingerly onto the booth seat opposite them, her arm still stiff despite Jace’s ministrations. She felt hollow inside, as if the Silent Brothers had reached into her and scooped out her insides, leaving her light and dizzy. “He’s an ifrit,” Jace explained. “They’re warlocks with no magic. Half demons who can’t cast spells for whatever reason.”
“Poor bastards,” said Alec, picking up his menu. Clary picked hers up too, and stared. Locusts and honey were featured as a special, as were plates of raw meat, whole raw fish, and something called a toasted bat sandwich. A page of the beverage section was devoted to the different types of blood they had on tap—to Clary’s relief, they were different kinds of animal blood, rather than type A, type O, or type B-negative.
“Who eats whole raw fish?” she inquired aloud.
“Kelpies,” said Alec. “Selkies. Maybe the occasional nixie.”
“Don’t order any of the faerie food,” said Jace, looking at her over the top of his menu. “It tends to make humans a little crazy. One minute you’re munching a faerie plum, the next minute you’re running naked down Madison Avenue with antlers on your head. Not,” he added hastily, “that this has ever happened to me.”
Alec laughed. “Do you remember—” he began, and launched into a story that contained so many mysterious names and proper nouns that Clary didn’t even bother trying to follow it. She was looking at Alec instead, watching him as he talked to Jace. There was a kinetic, almost feverish energy to him that hadn’t been there before. Something about Jace sharpened him, brought him into focus. If she were going to draw them together, she thought, she would make Jace a little blurry, while Alec stood out, all sharp, clear planes and angles.
Jace was looking down as Alec spoke, smiling a little and tapping his water glass with a fingernail. She sensed he was thinking of other things. She felt a sudden flash of sympathy for Alec. Jace couldn’t be an easy person to care about. I was laughing at you because declarations of love amuse me, especially when unrequited.
Jace looked up as the waitress passed. “Are we ever going to get any coffee?” he said aloud, interrupting Alec midsentence.
Alec subsided, his energy fading. “I …”
Clary spoke up hastily. “What’s all the raw meat for?” she asked, indicating the third page of her menu.
“Werewolves,” said Jace. “Though I don’t mind a bloody steak myself every once in a while.” He reached across the table and flipped Clary’s menu over. “Human food is on the back.”
She perused the perfectly ordinary menu selections with a feeling of stupefaction. It was all too much. “They have smoothies here?”