Alaric inclined his massive head to her. “We have met.”
Clary stared, alarmed. “Have we?”
“At the Hotel Dumort,” he said. “You put your knife in my ribs.”
She shrank against the wall. “I, ah … I’m sorry?”
“Don’t be,” he said. “It was an excellent throw.” He slid a hand into his breast pocket and removed Jace’s dagger, with its winking red eye. He held it out to her. “I think this is yours?”
“Don’t worry,” he assured her. “I cleaned the blade.”
Wordlessly, she took it. Luke was chuckling under his breath. “In retrospect,” he said, “perhaps the raid on the Dumort was not as well planned as it might have been. I had set a group of my wolves to watch you, and go after you if you seemed to be in any danger. When you went into the Dumort …”
“Jace and I could have handled it.” Clary slid the dagger into her belt.
Gretel aimed a tolerant smile at her. “Is that what you summoned us for, sir?”
“No,” said Luke. He touched his side. “My wound’s opened up, and Clary here has some injuries of her own that could use a bit of tending. If you wouldn’t mind getting the supplies …”
Gretel inclined her head. “I will return with the healing kit,” she said, and left, Alaric trailing her like an outsize shadow.
“She called you ‘sir,’” said Clary, the moment the cell door closed behind them. “And what do you mean by your second and your third? Second and third what?”
“In command,” said Luke slowly. “I am the leader of this particular wolf pack. That’s why Gretel called me ‘sir.’ Believe me, it took a fair bit of work to break her of the habit of calling me ‘master.’”
“Did my mother know?”
“That you’re a werewolf.”
“Yes. She’s known since it happened.”
“Neither of you, of course, thought to mention this to me.”
“I would have told you,” said Luke. “But your mother was adamant that you know nothing of Shadowhunters or the Shadow World. I couldn’t explain away my being a werewolf as some kind of isolated incident, Clary. It’s all part of the larger pattern that your mother didn’t want you to see. I don’t know what you’ve learned—”
“A lot,” Clary said flatly. “I know my mother was a Shadowhunter. I know she was married to Valentine and that she stole the Mortal Cup from him and went into hiding. I know that after she had me, she took me to Magnus Bane every two years to have my Sight taken away. I know that when Valentine tried to get you to tell him where the Cup was in exchange for my mom’s life, you told him she didn’t matter to you.”
Luke stared at the wall. “I didn’t know where the Cup was,” he said. “She’d never told me.”
“You could have tried to bargain—”
“Valentine doesn’t bargain. He never has. If the advantage isn’t his, he won’t even come to the table. He’s entirely single-minded and totally without compassion, and though he may have loved your mother once, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill her. No, I wasn’t going to bargain with Valentine.”
“So you just decided to abandon her?” Clary demanded furiously. “You’re the leader of a whole pack of werewolves and you just decided she didn’t even really need your help? You know, it was bad enough when I thought you were another Shadowhunter and you’d turned your back on her because of some stupid Shadowhunter vow or something, but now I know you’re just a slimy Downworlder who didn’t even care that all those years she treated you like a friend—like an equal—and this is how you paid her back!”
“Listen to you,” Luke said quietly. “You sound like a Lightwood.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Don’t talk about Alec and Isabelle like you know them.”
“I meant their parents,” said Luke. “Who I did know, very well in fact, when we were all Shadowhunters together.”
She felt her lips part in surprise. “I know you were in the Circle, but how did you keep them from finding out you were a werewolf? Didn’t they know?”
“No,” said Luke. “Because I wasn’t born a werewolf. I was made one. And I can already see that if you’re going to be persuaded to listen to anything I have to say, you’re going to have to hear the whole story. It’s a long tale, but I think we have the time for it.”
as the ascent beckoned.
—William Carlos Williams, The Descent
THE TRUTH IS, I’VE KNOWN YOUR MOTHER SINCE WE WERE children. We grew up in Idris. It’s a beautiful place, and I’ve always regretted that you’ve never seen it: You would love the glossy pines in winter, the dark earth and cold crystal rivers. There’s a small network of towns and a single city, Alicante, where the Clave meets. They call it the Glass City because its towers are shaped from the same demon-repelling substance as our steles; in the sunlight they sparkle like glass.
When Jocelyn and I were old enough, we were sent to Alicante to school. It was there that I met Valentine.
He was older than I was by a year. By far the most popular boy in school. He was handsome, clever, rich, dedicated, an incredible warrior. I was nothing—neither rich nor brilliant, from an unremarkable country family. And I struggled in my studies. Jocelyn was a natural Shadowhunter; I was not. I could not bear the lightest Marks or learn the simplest techniques. I thought sometimes about running away, returning home in shame. Even becoming a mundane. I was that miserable.
It was Valentine who saved me. He came to my room—I’d never even thought he knew my name. He offered to train me. He said he knew that I was struggling, but he saw in me the seeds of a great Shadowhunter. And under his tutelage I did improve. I passed my exams, bore my first Marks, killed my first demon.
I worshipped him. I thought the sun rose and set on Valentine Morgenstern. I wasn’t the only misfit he’d rescued, of course. There were others. Hodge Starkweather, who got along better with books than he did with people; Maryse Trueblood, whose brother had married a mundane; Robert Lightwood, who was terrified of the Marks—Valentine brought them all under his wing. I thought it was kindness, then; now I am not so sure. Now I think he was building himself a cult.
Valentine was obsessed with the idea that in every generation there were fewer and fewer Shadowhunters—that we were a dying breed. He was sure that if only the Clave would more freely use Raziel’s Cup, more Shadowhunters could be made. To the teachers this idea was sacrilege—it is not for just anyone to choose who can and cannot become a Shadowhunter. Flippantly, Valentine would ask: Why not make all men Shadowhunters, then? Why not gift them all with the ability to see the Shadow World? Why keep that power selfishly to ourselves?
When the teachers answered that most humans cannot survive the transition, Valentine claimed they were lying, trying to keep the power of the Nephilim limited to an elite few. That was his claim, at the time—now I think he probably felt the collateral damage was worth the end result. In any case, he convinced our little group of his rightness. We formed the Circle, with our stated intent being to save the race of Shadowhunters from extinction. Of course, being seventeen, we weren’t quite sure how we would do it, but we were sure we’d eventually accomplish something significant.
Then came the night that Valentine’s father was killed in a routine raid on a werewolf encampment. When Valentine returned to school, after the funeral, he wore the red Marks of mourning. He was different in other ways. His kindness was now interspersed with flashes of rage that bordered on cruelty. I put this new behavior down to grief and tried harder than ever to please him. I never answered his anger with anger of my own. I felt only the sick sense that I had disappointed him.
The only one that could calm his rages was your mother. She had always stood a little apart from our group, sometimes mockingly calling us Valentine’s fan club. That changed when his father died. His pain awakened her sympathy. They fell in love.
I loved him too: He was my closest friend, and I was happy to see Jocelyn with him. When we left school, they married and went to live on her family’s estate. I also returned home, but the Circle continued. It had started as a sort of school adventure, but it grew in scale and power, and Valentine grew with it. Its ideals had changed as well. The Circle still clamored for the Mortal Cup, but since the death of his father, Valentine had become an outspoken proponent of war against all Downworlders, not just those who broke the Accords. This world was for humans, he argued, not part demons. Demons could never be fully trusted.
I was uncomfortable with the Circle’s new direction, but I stuck with it—partly because I still couldn’t bear to let Valentine down, partly because Jocelyn had asked me to continue. She had some hope that I would be able to bring moderation to the Circle, but that was impossible. There was no moderating Valentine, and Robert and Maryse Lightwood—now married—were almost as bad. Only Michael Wayland was unsure, as I was, but despite our reluctance we followed still; as a group we hunted Downworlders tirelessly, seeking those who had committed even the slightest infraction. Valentine never killed a creature who had not broken the Accords, but he did other things. I saw him fasten silver coins to the eyelids of a werewolf child, blinding her, in an attempt to get the girl to tell him where her brother was …. I saw him—but you don’t need to hear this. No. I’m sorry.
What happened next was that Jocelyn became pregnant. The day she told me that, she also confessed that she had grown afraid of her husband. His behavior had turned weird, erratic. He would disappear into their cellars for nights at a time. Sometimes she would hear screams through the walls ….
I went to him. He laughed, dismissing her fears as the jitters of a woman carrying her first child. He invited me to hunt with him that night. We were still trying to clean out the nest of werewolves who had killed his father years before. We were parabatai, a perfect hunting team of two, warriors who would die for each other. So when Valentine told me he would guard my back that night, I believed him. I didn’t see the wolf until it was on me. I remember its teeth fastened in my shoulder, and nothing else of that night. When I awoke, I was lying in Valentine’s house, my shoulder bandaged, and Jocelyn was there.
Not all werewolf bites result in lycanthropy. I healed of the injury and passed the next weeks in a torment of waiting. Waiting for the full moon. The Clave would have locked me in an observation cell, had they known. But Valentine and Jocelyn kept silent. Three weeks later the moon rose full and bright, and I began to change. The first Change is always the hardest. I remember a bewilderment of agony, a blackness, and waking up hours later in a meadow miles from the city. I was covered in blood, the torn body of some small woodland animal at my feet.
I made my way back to the manor, and they met me at the door. Jocelyn fell on me, weeping, but Valentine pulled her away. I stood, bloody and shaking on my feet. I could scarcely think, and the taste of raw meat was still in my mouth. I don’t know what I had expected, but I suppose I should have known.
Valentine dragged me down the steps and into the woods with him. He told me that he ought to kill me himself, but, seeing me then, he could not bring himself to do it. He gave me a dagger that had once belonged to his father. He said I should do the honorable thing and end my own life. He kissed the dagger when he handed it to me, and went back inside the manor house, and barred the door.
I ran through the night, sometimes as a man, sometimes as a wolf, until I crossed the border. I burst into the midst of the werewolf encampment, brandishing my dagger, and demanded to meet in combat the lycanthrope who had bitten me and turned me into one of them. Laughing, they pointed me toward the clan leader. Hands and teeth still bloody from the hunt, he rose to face me.
I had never been much for single combat. The crossbow was my weapon; I had excellent sight and aim. But I had never been very good at close range; it was Valentine who was skilled in fighting hand to hand. But I wanted only to die, and to take with me the creature who had ruined me. I suppose I thought if I could avenge myself, and kill the wolves who had murdered his father, Valentine would mourn me. As we grappled, sometimes as men, sometimes as wolves, I saw that he was surprised by my fierceness. As the night faded into day, he began to tire, but my rage never abated. And as the sun began to set again, I sank my dagger into his neck and he died, soaking me with his blood.
I expected the pack to set on me and tear me apart. But they knelt at my feet and bared their throats in submission. The wolves have a law: Whoever kills the clan leader takes his place. I had come to the place of the wolves, and instead of finding death and vengeance there, I found a new life.
I left my old self behind and almost forgot what it was like to be a Shadowhunter. But I did not forget Jocelyn. The thought of her was a constant companion. I feared for her in the company of Valentine, but knew that if I came near the manor house, the Circle would hunt me down and kill me.
In the end she came to me. I was asleep in the camp when my second in command came to tell me that there was a young Shadowhunter woman waiting to see me. I knew immediately who it must be. I could see the disapproval in his eyes as I raced to meet her. They all knew I had once been a Shadowhunter, of course, but it was considered a shameful secret, never spoken of. Valentine would have laughed.
She was waiting for me just outside the encampment. She was no longer pregnant, and looked drawn and pale. She had had her child, she said, a boy, and had named him Jonathan Christopher. She cried when she saw me. She was angry that I had not let her know I was still alive. Valentine had told the Circle I had taken my own life, but she had not believed it. She knew that I would never do such a thing. I felt her faith in me was unwarranted, but I was so relieved to see her again that I didn’t contradict her.