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City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments 3) Cassandra Clare 2022/8/5 16:59:44

WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD

OUT OF A DREAM OF BLOOD AND SUNLIGHT, SIMON WOKE suddenly to the sound of a voice calling his name.

“Simon.” The voice was a hissing whisper. “Simon, get up.”

Simon was on his feet—sometimes how fast he could move now surprised even him—and spinning around in the darkness of the cell. “Samuel?” he whispered, staring into the shadows. “Samuel, was that you?”

“Turn around, Simon.” Now the voice, faintly familiar, held a note of irritability. “And come to the window.” Simon knew immediately who it was and looked through the barred window to see Jace kneeling on the grass outside, a witchlight stone in his hand. He was looking at Simon with a strained scowl. “What, did you think you were having a nightmare?”

“Maybe I still am.” There was a buzzing in Simon’s ears—if he’d had a heartbeat, he would have thought it was the blood rushing through his veins, but it was something else, something less corporeal but more proximate than blood.

The witchlight threw a crazy-quilt pattern of light and shadow across Jace’s pale face. “So here’s where they put you. I didn’t think they even used these cells anymore.” He glanced sideways. “I got the wrong window at first. Gave your friend in the next cell something of a shock. Attractive fellow, what with the beard and the rags. Kind of reminds me of the street folk back home.”

And Simon realized what the buzzing sound in his ears was. Rage. In some distant corner of his mind he was aware that his lips were drawn back, the tips of his fangs grazing his lower lip. “I’m glad you think all this is funny.”

“You’re not happy to see me, then?” Jace said. “I have to say, I’m surprised. I’ve always been told my presence brightened up any room. One might think that went doubly for dank underground cells.”

“You knew what would happen, didn’t you? ‘They’ll send you right back to New York,’ you said. No problem. But they never had any intention of doing that.”

“I didn’t know.” Jace met his eyes through the bars, and his gaze was clear and steady. “I know you won’t believe me, but I thought I was telling you the truth.”

“You’re either lying or stupid—”

“—or both,” Simon finished. “I’m inclined to think both.”

“I don’t have a reason to lie to you. Not now.” Jace’s gaze remained steady. “And quit baring your fangs at me. It’s making me nervous.”

“Good,” Simon said. “If you want to know why, it’s because you smell like blood.”

“It’s my cologne. Eau de Recent Injury.” Jace raised his left hand. It was a glove of white bandages, stained across the knuckles where blood had seeped through.

Simon frowned. “I thought your kind didn’t get injuries. Not ones that lasted.”

“I put it through a window,” Jace said, “and Alec’s making me heal like a mundane to teach me a lesson. There, I told you the truth. Impressed?”

“No,” Simon said. “I have bigger problems than you. The Inquisitor keeps asking me questions I can’t answer. He keeps accusing me of getting my Daylighter powers from Valentine. Of being a spy for him.”

Alarm flickered in Jace’s eyes. “Aldertree said that?”

“Aldertree implied the whole Clave thought so.”

“That’s bad. If they decide you’re a spy, then the Accords don’t apply. Not if they can convince themselves you’ve broken the Law.” Jace glanced around quickly before returning his gaze to Simon. “We’d better get you out of here.”

“And then what?” Simon almost couldn’t believe what he was saying. He wanted to get out of this place so badly he could taste it, yet he couldn’t stop the words tumbling out of his mouth. “Where do you plan on hiding me?”

“There’s a Portal here in the Gard. If we can find it, I can send you back through—”

“And everyone will know you helped me. Jace, it’s not just me the Clave is after. In fact, I doubt they care about one Downworlder at all one way or the other. They’re trying to prove something about your family—about the Lightwoods. They’re trying to prove that they’re connected with Valentine somehow. That they never really left the Circle.”

Even in the darkness, it was possible to see the color rush into Jace’s cheeks. “But that’s ridiculous. They fought Valentine on the ship—Robert nearly died—”

“The Inquisitor wants to believe that they sacrificed the other Nephilim who fought on the boat to preserve the illusion that they were against Valentine. But they still lost the Mortal Sword, and that’s what he cares about. Look, you tried to warn the Clave, and they didn’t care. Now the Inquisitor is looking for someone to blame everything on. If he can brand your family as traitors, then no one will blame the Clave for what happened, and he’ll be able to make whatever policies he wants without opposition.”

Jace put his face in his hands, his long fingers tugging distractedly at his hair. “But I can’t just leave you here. If Clary finds out—”

“I should have known that’s what you were worried about.” Simon laughed harshly. “So don’t tell her. She’s in New York, anyway, thank—” He broke off, unable to say the word. “You were right,” he said instead. “I’m glad she’s not here.”

Jace lifted his head out of his hands. “What?”

“The Clave is insane. Who knows what they’d do to her if they knew what she could do. You were right,” Simon repeated, and when Jace said nothing in reply, added, “and you might as well enjoy that I just said that to you. I probably won’t ever say it again.”

Jace stared at him, his face blank, and Simon was reminded with an unpleasant jolt of the way Jace had looked on the ship, bloody and dying on the metal floor.

Finally, Jace spoke. “So you’re telling me you plan to stay here? In prison? Until when?”

“Until we think of a better idea,” said Simon. “But there is one thing.”

Jace raised his eyebrows. “What’s that?”

“Blood,” said Simon. “The Inquisitor’s trying to starve me into talking. I already feel pretty weak. By tomorrow I’ll be—well, I don’t know how I’ll be. But I don’t want to give in to him. And I won’t drink your blood again, or anyone else’s,” he added quickly, before Jace could offer. “Animal blood will do.”

“Blood I can get you,” Jace said. He hesitated. “Did you … tell the Inquisitor that I let you drink my blood? That I saved you?”

Simon shook his head.

Jace’s eyes shone with reflected light. “Why not?”

“I suppose I didn’t want to get you into more trouble.”

“Look, vampire,” Jace said. “Protect the Lightwoods if you can. But don’t protect me.”

Simon raised his head. “Why not?”

“I suppose,” said Jace—and for a moment, as he looked down through the bars, Simon could almost imagine that he were outside, and Jace were the one inside the cell—“because I don’t deserve it.”

Clary woke to a sound like hailstones on a metal roof. She sat up in bed, staring around groggily. The sound came again, a sharp rattle-thump emanating from the window. Peeling her blanket back reluctantly, she went to investigate.

Throwing the window open let in a blast of cold air that cut through her pajamas like a knife. She shivered and leaned out over the sill.

Someone was standing in the garden below, and for a moment, with a leap of her heart, all she saw was that the figure was slender and tall, with boyish, rumpled hair. Then he raised his face and she saw that the hair was dark, not fair, and she realized that for the second time, she’d hoped for Jace and gotten Sebastian instead.

He was holding a handful of pebbles in one hand. He smiled when he saw her poke her head out, and gestured at himself and then at the rose trellis. Climb downstairs.

She shook her head and pointed toward the front of the house. Meet me at the front door. Shutting the window, she hurried downstairs. It was late morning—the light pouring in through the windows was strong and golden—but the lights were all off and the house was quiet. Amatis must still be asleep, she thought.

Clary went to the front door, unbolted it, and threw it open. Sebastian was there, standing on the front step, and once again she had that feeling, that strange burst of recognition, though it was fainter this time. She smiled weakly at him. “You threw stones at my window,” she said. “I thought people only did that in movies.”

He grinned. “Nice pajamas. Did I wake you up?”

“Sorry,” he said, though he didn’t seem sorry. “But this couldn’t wait. You might want to run upstairs and get dressed, by the way. We’ll be spending the day together.”

“Wow. Confident, aren’t you?” she said, but then boys who looked like Sebastian probably had no reason to be anything but confident. She shook her head. “I’m sorry, but I can’t. I can’t leave the house. Not today.”

A faint line of concern appeared between his eyes. “You left the house yesterday.”

“I know, but that was before—” Before Amatis made me feel about two inches tall. “I just can’t. And please don’t try to argue me out of it, okay?”

“Okay,” he said. “I won’t argue. But at least let me tell you what I came here to tell you. Then, I promise, if you still want me to go, I’ll go.”

He raised his face, and she wondered how it was possible that dark eyes could glow just like golden ones. “I know where you can find Ragnor Fell.”

It took Clary less than ten minutes to run upstairs, throw on her clothes, scribble a hasty note to Amatis, and rejoin Sebastian, who was waiting for her at the edge of the canal. He grinned as she ran to meet him, breathless, her green coat flung over one arm. “I’m here,” she said, skidding to a stop. “Can we go now?”

Sebastian insisted on helping her on with the coat. “I don’t think anyone’s ever helped me with my coat before,” Clary observed, freeing the hair that had gotten trapped under her collar. “Well, maybe waiters. Were you ever a waiter?”

“No, but I was brought up by a Frenchwoman,” Sebastian reminded her. “It involved an even more rigorous course of training.”

Clary smiled, despite her nervousness. Sebastian was good at making her smile, she realized with a faint sense of surprise. Almost too good at it. “Where are we going?” she asked abruptly. “Is Fell’s house near here?”

“He lives outside the city, actually,” said Sebastian, starting toward the bridge. Clary fell into step beside him.

“Too long to walk. We’re going to get a ride.”

“A ride? From who?” She came to a dead stop. “Sebastian, we have to be careful. We can’t trust just anyone with the information about what we’re doing—what I’m doing. It’s a secret.”

Sebastian regarded her with thoughtful dark eyes. “I swear on the Angel that the friend we’ll be getting a ride from won’t breathe a word to anyone about what we’re doing.”

Ragnor Fell, Clary thought as they weaved through the crowded streets. I’m going to see Ragnor Fell. Wild excitement clashed with trepidation—Madeleine had made him sound formidable. What if he had no patience with her, no time? What if she couldn’t make him believe she was who she said she was? What if he didn’t even remember her mother?

It didn’t help her nerves that every time she passed a blond man or a girl with long dark hair her insides tensed up as she thought she recognized Jace or Isabelle. But Isabelle would probably just ignore her, she thought glumly, and Jace was doubtless back at the Penhallows’, necking with his new girlfriend.

“You worried about being followed?” Sebastian asked as they turned down a side street that led away from the city center, noticing the way she kept glancing around her.

“I keep thinking I see people I know,” she admitted. “Jace, or the Lightwoods.”

“I don’t think Jace has left the Penhallows’ since they got here. He mostly seems to be skulking in his room. He hurt his hand pretty badly yesterday too—”

“Hurt his hand? How?” Clary, forgetting to look where she was going, stumbled over a rock. The road they’d been walking on had somehow turned from cobblestones to gravel without her noticing. “Ouch.”

“We’re here,” Sebastian announced, stopping in front of a high wood-and-wire fence. There were no houses around—they had rather abruptly left the residential district behind, and there was only this fence on one side and a gravelly slope leading away toward the forest on the other.

There was a door in the fence, but it was padlocked. From his pocket Sebastian produced a heavy steel key and opened the gate. “I’ll be right back with our ride.” He swung the gate shut behind him. Clary put her eye to the slats. Through the gaps she could glimpse what looked like a low-slung red clapboard house. Though it didn’t appear to really have a door—or proper windows—

The gate opened, and Sebastian reappeared, grinning from ear to ear. He held a lead in one hand: Pacing docilely behind him was a huge gray and white horse with a blaze like a star on his forehead.

“A horse? You have a horse?” Clary stared in amazement. “Who has a horse?”