I’ve lost him, she thought despairingly.
“Get down,” he said, and pushed her, hard. She stumbled, fell to the ground, rolled onto one knee. Kneeling upright, she saw Valentine raise his sword high over his head. The glow from the chandelier overhead exploding off the blade sent brilliant points of light stabbing into her eyes. “Luke!” she shrieked.
The blade slammed home—into the floor. Luke was no longer there. Jace, having moved faster than Clary would have thought possible even for a Shadowhunter, had knocked him out of the way, sending him sprawling to the side. Jace stood facing his father over the quivering hilt of the sword, his face white, but his gaze steady.
“I think you should leave,” Jace said.
Valentine stared incredulously at his son. “What did you say?”
Luke had pulled himself into a sitting position. Fresh blood stained his shirt. He stared as Jace reached out a hand and gently, almost disinterestedly, caressed the hilt of the sword that had been driven into the floor. “I think you heard me, Father.”
Valentine’s voice was like a whip. “Jonathan Morgenstern—”
Quick as lightning, Jace seized the hilt of the sword, tore it free from the floorboards, and raised it. He held it lightly, level and flat, the point hovering a few inches below his father’s chin. “That’s not my name,” he said. “My name is Jace Wayland.”
Valentine’s eyes were still fixed on Jace; he barely seemed to notice the sword at his throat. “Wayland?” he roared. “You have no Wayland blood! Michael Wayland was a stranger to you—”
“So,” said Jace calmly, “are you.” He jerked the sword to the left. “Now move.”
Valentine was shaking his head. “Never. I will not take orders from a child.”
The tip of the sword kissed Valentine’s throat. Clary stared in fascinated horror. “I am a very well-trained child,” Jace said. “You instructed me yourself in the precise art of killing. I only need to move two fingers to cut your throat, did you know that?” His eyes were steely. “I suppose you did.”
“You’re skilled enough,” said Valentine. His tone was dismissive, but, Clary noticed, he was standing very still indeed. “But you could not kill me. You have always been softhearted.”
“Perhaps he couldn’t.” It was Luke, on his feet now, pale and bloody but upright. “But I could. And I’m not entirely sure he could stop me.”
Valentine’s feverish eyes flicked to Luke, and back to his son. Jace hadn’t turned when Luke spoke, but stood still as a statue, the sword unmoving in his hand. “You hear the monster threatening me, Jonathan,” said Valentine. “You side with it?”
“It has a point,” said Jace mildly. “I’m not entirely sure I could stop him if he wanted to do you damage. Werewolves heal so fast.”
Valentine’s lip curled. “So,” he spat, “like your mother, you prefer this creature, this half-breed demon thing, to your own blood, your own family?”
For the first time the sword in Jace’s hand seemed to tremble. “You left me when I was a child,” he said in a measured voice. “You let me think you were dead and you sent me away to live with strangers. You never told me I had a mother, a sister. You left me alone.” The word was a cry.
“I did it for you—to keep you safe,” Valentine protested.
“If you cared about Jace, if you cared about blood, you wouldn’t have killed his grandparents. You murdered innocent people,” Clary cut in, furious.
“Innocent?” snapped Valentine. “No one is innocent in a war! They sided with Jocelyn against me! They would have let her take my son from me!”
Luke let out a hissing breath. “You knew she was going to leave you,” he said. “You knew she was going to run, even before the Uprising?”
“Of course I knew!” roared Valentine. His icy control had cracked and Clary could see the molten rage seething underneath, coiling the tendons in his neck, clenching his hands into fists. “I did what I had to to protect my own, and in the end I gave them more than they ever deserved: the funeral pyre awarded only to the greatest warriors of the Clave!”
“You burned them,” said Clary flatly.
“Yes!” shouted Valentine. “I burned them.”
Jace made a strangled noise. “My grandparents—”
“You never knew them,” said Valentine. “Don’t pretend to a grief you do not feel.”
The point of the sword was trembling more rapidly now. Luke put a hand on Jace’s shoulder. “Steady,” he said.
She stepped forward hastily. “Jace—we need the Cup. Or you know what he’ll do with it.”
Jace licked his dry lips. “The Cup, Father. Where is it?”
“In Idris,” said Valentine calmly. “Where you will never find it.”
Jace’s hand was shaking. “Tell me—”
“Give me the sword, Jonathan.” It was Luke, his voice calm, even kind.
Jace sounded as if he were speaking from the bottom of a well. “What?”
Clary took a step forward. “Give Luke the sword. Let him have it, Jace.”
He shook his head. “I can’t do that.”
She took another step forward; one more, and she’d be close enough to touch him. “Yes, you can,” she said gently. “Please.”
He didn’t look at her. His eyes were locked on his father’s. The moment stretched out and out, interminable. At last he nodded, curtly, without lowering his hand. But he did let Luke move to stand beside him, and place his hand over Jace’s, on the hilt of the blade. “You can let go now, Jonathan,” Luke said—and then, seeing Clary’s face, amended himself. “Jace.”
Jace seemed not to have heard him. He released the hilt and moved away from his father. Some of Jace’s color had come back, and he was now a shade more like putty, his lip bloody where he’d bitten it. Clary ached to touch him, put her arms around him, knew he’d never let her.
“I have a suggestion,” said Valentine to Luke, in a surprisingly even tone.
“Let me guess,” said Luke. “It’s ‘Don’t kill me,’ isn’t it?”
Valentine laughed, a sound without any humor in it. “I would hardly lower myself to ask you for my life,” he said.
“Good,” said Luke, nudging the other man’s chin with his blade. “I’m not going to kill you unless you force my hand, Valentine. I draw the line at murdering you in front of your own children. What I want is the Cup.”
The roaring downstairs was louder now. Clary could hear what sounded like footsteps in the corridor outside. “Luke—”
“I hear it,” he snapped.
“The Cup’s in Idris, I told you,” said Valentine, his eyes shifting past Luke.
Luke was sweating. “If it’s in Idris, you used the Portal to bring it there. I’ll go with you. Bring it back.” Luke’s eyes were darting. There was more movement in the corridor outside now, sounds of shouting, of something shattering. “Clary, stay with your brother. After we go through, you use the Portal to take you to a safe place.”
“I won’t leave here,” said Jace.
“Yes, you will.” Something thudded against the door. Luke raised his voice. “Valentine, the Portal. Move.”
“Or what?” Valentine’s eyes were fixed on the door with a considering look.
“I’ll kill you if you force my hand,” Luke said. “In front of them, or not. The Portal, Valentine. Now.”
Valentine spread his hands wide. “If you wish.”
He stepped lightly backward, just as the door exploded inward, hinges scattering across the floor. Luke ducked out of the way to avoid being crushed by the falling door, turning as he did so, the sword still in his hand.
A wolf stood in the doorway, a mountain of growling, brindled fur, shoulders hunched forward, lips curled back over snarling teeth. Blood ran from innumerable gashes in his pelt.
Jace was swearing softly, a seraph blade already in his hand. Clary caught at his wrist. “Don’t—he’s a friend.”
Jace shot her an incredulous glance, but lowered his arm.
“Alaric—” Luke shouted something then, in a language Clary didn’t understand. Alaric snarled again, crouching closer to the floor, and for a confused moment she thought he was going to hurl himself at Luke. Then she saw Valentine’s hand at his belt, the flash of red jewels, and realized that she had forgotten that he still had Jace’s dagger.
She heard a voice shout Luke’s name, thought it was her own—then realized that her throat seemed glued shut, and that it was Jace who had shouted.
Luke slewed around, excruciatingly slowly, it seemed, as the knife left Valentine’s hand and flew toward him like a silver butterfly, turning over and over in the air. Luke raised his blade—and something huge and tawny gray hurtled between him and Valentine. She heard Alaric’s howl, rising, suddenly cut off; heard the sound as the blade struck. She gasped and tried to run forward, but Jace pulled her back.
The wolf crumpled at Luke’s feet, blood spattering his fur. Feebly, with his paws, Alaric clawed at the hilt of the knife protruding from his chest.
Valentine laughed. “And this is how you repay the unquestioning loyalty you bought so cheaply, Lucian,” he said. “By letting them die for you.” He was backing up, his eyes still on Luke.
Luke, white-faced, looked at him, and then down at Alaric; shook his head once, and dropped to his knees, leaning over the fallen werewolf. Jace, still holding Clary by the shoulders, hissed, “Stay here, you hear me? Stay here,” and set off after Valentine, who was hurrying, inexplicably, toward the far wall. Did he plan to throw himself out the window? Clary could see his reflection in the big, gold-framed mirror as he neared it, and the expression on his face—a sort of sneering relief—filled her with a murderous rage.
“Like hell I will,” she muttered, moving to follow Jace. She paused only to grab the blue-hilted kindjal from the floor beneath the table, where Valentine had kicked it. The weapon in her hand felt comfortable now, reassuring, as she pushed a fallen chair out of her way and approached the mirror.
Jace had the seraph blade out, its light casting a hard illumination upward, darkening the circles under his eyes, the hollows of his cheeks. Valentine had turned and stood outlined in its light, his back against the mirror. In its surface Clary could also see Luke behind them; he had set his sword down, and was pulling the red-hilted kindjal out of Alaric’s chest, gently and carefully. She felt sick and gripped her own blade more tightly. “Jace—” she began.
He didn’t turn to look at her, though of course he could see her in the mirror’s reflection. “Clary, I told you to wait.”
“She’s like her mother,” said Valentine. One of his hands was behind him; he was running it along the edge of the mirror’s heavy gilt frame. “Doesn’t like to do what she’s told.”
Jace wasn’t shaking as he had been earlier, but Clary could sense how thin his control had been stretched, like the skin over a drum. “I’ll go with him to Idris, Clary. I’ll bring the Cup back.”
“No, you can’t,” Clary began, and saw, in the mirror, how his face twisted.
“Do you have a better idea?” he demanded.
“Lucian,” said Valentine in a voice like silk, “is attending to a fallen comrade. As for the Cup, and Idris, they are not far. Through the looking glass, one might say.”
Jace’s eyes narrowed. “The mirror is the Portal?”
Valentine’s lips thinned and he dropped his hand, moving back from the mirror as the image in it swirled and changed like watercolors running in a painting. Instead of the room with its dark wood and candles, now Clary could see green fields, the thick emerald leaves of trees, and a wide meadow sweeping down to a large stone house in the distance. She could hear the buzzing sound of bees and the rustle of leaves in wind, and smell the honeysuckle carried on the wind.
“I told you it was not far.” Valentine stood in what was now a gilt-arched doorway, his hair stirring in the same wind that ruffled the leaves on the distant trees. “Is it as you remember it, Jonathan? Has nothing changed?”
Clary’s heart clenched inside her chest. She had no doubt this was Jace’s childhood home, presented to tempt him as you might tempt a child with candy or a toy. She looked toward Jace, but he didn’t seem to see her at all. He was staring at the Portal, and the view beyond it of the green fields and the manor house. She saw his face soften, the wistful curve of his mouth, as if he were looking at someone he loved.
“You can still come home,” said his father. The light from the seraph blade that Jace held threw his shadow backward so it seemed to move across the Portal, darkening the bright fields, the meadow beyond.
The smile faded from Jace’s mouth. “That’s not my home,” he said. “This is my home now.”
A spasm of fury twisting his features, Valentine looked at his son. She would never forget that look—it made her feel a sudden wild longing for her mother. Because no matter how angry her mother had been with her, Jocelyn had never looked at her like that. She had always looked at her with love.
If she could have felt more pity for Jace than she already did, she would have felt it then.
“Very well,” said Valentine, and took a swift step back through the Portal so that his feet struck the earth of Idris. His lips curved into a smile. “Ah,” he said, “home.”