Jace exhaled slowly, reluctantly—and let go his grip on Simon’s arm. “What Clary did on Valentine’s ship,” he said, his voice low. “With the rune on the wall—the Rune of Opening—well, you saw what happened.”
“She destroyed the ship,” said Simon. “Saved all our lives.”
“Keep your voice down.” Jace glanced around anxiously.
“You’re not saying no one else knows about that, are you?” Simon demanded in disbelief.
“I know. You know. Luke knows and Magnus knows. No one else.”
“What do they all think happened? The ship just opportunely came apart?”
“I told them Valentine’s Ritual of Conversion must have gone wrong.”
“You lied to the Clave?” Simon wasn’t sure whether to be impressed or dismayed.
“Yes, I lied to the Clave. Isabelle and Alec know Clary has some ability to create new runes, so I doubt I’ll be able to keep that from the Clave or the new Inquisitor. But if they knew she could do what she does—amplify ordinary runes so they have incredible destructive power—they’d want her as a fighter, a weapon. And she’s not equipped for that. She wasn’t brought up for it—” He broke off, as Simon shook his head. “What?”
“You’re Nephilim,” Simon said slowly. “Shouldn’t you want what’s best for the Clave? If that’s using Clary …”
“You want them to have her? To put her in the front lines, up against Valentine and whatever army he’s raising?”
“No,” said Simon. “I don’t want that. But I’m not one of you. I don’t have to ask myself who to put first, Clary or my family.”
Jace flushed a slow, dark red. “It’s not like that. If I thought it would help the Clave—but it won’t. She’ll just get hurt—”
“Even if you thought it would help the Clave,” Simon said, “you’d never let them have her.”
“What makes you say that, vampire?”
“Because no one can have her but you,” said Simon.
The color left Jace’s face. “So you won’t help me,” he said in disbelief. “You won’t help her?”
Simon hesitated—and before he could respond, a noise split the silence between them. A high, shrieking cry, terrible in its desperation, and worse for the abruptness with which it was cut off. Jace whirled around. “What was that?”
The single shriek was joined by other cries, and a harsh clanging that scraped Simon’s eardrums. “Something’s happened—the others—”
But Jace was already gone, running along the path, dodging the undergrowth. After a moment’s hesitation Simon followed. He had forgotten how fast he could run now—he was hard on Jace’s heels as they rounded the corner of the church and burst out into the garden.
Before them was chaos. A white mist blanketed the garden, and there was a heavy smell in the air—the sharp tang of ozone and something else under it, sweet and unpleasant. Figures darted back and forth—Simon could see them only in fragments, as they appeared and disappeared through gaps in the fog. He glimpsed Isabelle, her hair snapping around her in black ropes as she swung her whip. It made a deadly fork of golden lightning through the shadows. She was fending off the advance of something lumbering and huge—a demon, Simon thought—but it was full daylight; that was impossible. As he stumbled forward, he saw that the creature was humanoid in shape, but humped and twisted, somehow wrong. It carried a thick wooden plank in one hand and was swinging at Isabelle almost blindly.
Only a short distance away, through a gap in the stone wall, Simon could see the traffic on York Avenue rumbling placidly by. The sky beyond the Institute was clear.
“Forsaken,” Jace whispered. His face was blazing as he drew one of his seraph blades from his belt. “Dozens of them.” He pushed Simon to the side, almost roughly. “Stay here, do you understand? Stay here.”
Simon stood frozen for a moment as Jace plunged forward into the mist. The light of the blade in his hand lit the fog around him to silver; dark figures dashed back and forth inside it, and Simon felt as if he were gazing through a pane of frosted glass, desperately trying to make out what was happening on the other side. Isabelle had vanished; he saw Alec, his arm bleeding, as he sliced through the chest of a Forsaken warrior and watched it crumple to the ground. Another reared up behind him, but Jace was there, now with a blade in each hand; he leaped into the air and brought them up and then down with a vicious scissoring movement—and the Forsaken’s head tumbled free of its neck, black blood spurting. Simon’s stomach wrenched—the blood smelled bitter, poisonous.
He could hear the Shadowhunters calling to one another out of the mist, though the Forsaken were utterly silent. Suddenly the mist cleared, and Simon saw Magnus, standing wild-eyed by the wall of the Institute. His hands were raised, blue lightning sparking between them, and against the wall where he stood, a square black hole seemed to be opening in the stone. It wasn’t empty, or dark precisely, but shone like a mirror with whirling fire trapped within its glass. “The Portal!” he was shouting. “Go through the Portal!”
Several things happened at once. Maryse Lightwood appeared out of the mist, carrying the boy, Max, in her arms. She paused to call something over her shoulder and then plunged toward the Portal and through it, vanishing into the wall. Alec followed, dragging Isabelle after him, her blood-spattered whip trailing on the ground. As he pulled her toward the Portal, something surged up out of the mist behind them—a Forsaken warrior, swinging a double-bladed knife.
Simon unfroze. Darting forward, he called out Isabelle’s name—then stumbled and pitched forward, hitting the ground hard enough to knock the breath out of him, if he’d had any breath. He scrambled into a sitting position, turning to see what he’d tripped over.
It was a body. The body of a woman, her throat slit, her eyes wide and blue in death. Blood stained her pale hair. Madeleine.
“Simon, move!” It was Jace, shouting; Simon looked and saw the other boy running toward him out of the fog, bloody seraph blades in his hands. Then he looked up. The Forsaken warrior he’d seen chasing Isabelle loomed over him, its scarred face twisted into a rictus grin. Simon twisted away as the double-bladed knife swung down toward him, but even with his improved reflexes, he wasn’t fast enough. A searing pain shot through him as everything went black.
THE DEMON TOWERS OF ALICANTE
THERE WAS NO AMOUNT OF MAGIC, CLARY THOUGHT AS SHE and Luke circled the block for the third time, that could create new parking spaces on a New York City street. There was nowhere for the truck to pull in, and half the street was double-parked. Finally Luke pulled up at a hydrant and shifted the pickup into neutral with a sigh. “Go on,” he said. “Let them know you’re here. I’ll bring your suitcase.”
Clary nodded, but hesitated before reaching for the door handle. Her stomach was tight with anxiety, and she wished, not for the first time, that Luke were going with her. “I always thought that the first time I went overseas, I’d have a passport with me at least.”
Luke didn’t smile. “I know you’re nervous,” he said. “But it’ll be all right. The Lightwoods will take good care of you.”
I’ve only told you that a million times, Clary thought. She patted Luke’s shoulder lightly before jumping down from the truck. “See you in a few.”
She made her way down the cracked stone path, the sound of traffic fading as she neared the church doors. It took her several moments to peel the glamour off the Institute this time. It felt as if another layer of disguise had been added to the old cathedral, like a new coat of paint. Scraping it off with her mind felt hard, even painful. Finally it was gone and she could see the church as it was. The high wooden doors gleamed as if they’d just been polished.
There was a strange smell in the air, like ozone and burning. With a frown she put her hand to the knob. I am Clary Morgenstern, one of the Nephilim, and I ask entrance to the Institute—
The door swung open. Clary stepped inside. She looked around, blinking, trying to identify what it was that felt somehow different about the cathedral’s interior.
She realized it as the door swung shut behind her, trapping her in a blackness relieved only by the dim glow of the rose window far overhead. She had never been inside the entrance to the Institute when there had not been dozens of flames lit in the elaborate candelabras lining the aisle between the pews.
She took her witchlight stone out of her pocket and held it up. Light blazed from it, sending shining spokes of illumination flaring out between her fingers. It lit the dusty corners of the cathedral’s interior as she made her way to the elevator near the bare altar and jabbed impatiently at the call button.
Nothing happened. After half a minute she pressed the button again—and again. She laid her ear against the elevator door and listened. Not a sound. The Institute had gone dark and silent, like a mechanical doll whose clockwork heart had run down.
Her heart pounding now, Clary hurried back down the aisle and pushed the heavy doors open. She stood on the front steps of the church, glancing about frantically. The sky was darkening to cobalt overhead, and the air smelled even more strongly of burning. Had there been a fire? Had the Shadowhunters evacuated? But the place looked untouched….
“It wasn’t a fire.” The voice was soft, velvety and familiar. A tall figure materialized out of the shadows, hair sticking up in a corona of ungainly spikes. He wore a black silk suit over a shimmering emerald green shirt, and brightly jeweled rings on his narrow fingers. There were fancy boots involved as well, and a good deal of glitter.
“Magnus?” Clary whispered.
“I know what you were thinking,” Magnus said. “But there was no fire. That smell is hellmist—it’s a sort of enchanted demonic smoke. It mutes the effects of certain kinds of magic.”
“Demonic mist? Then there was—”
“An attack on the Institute. Yes. Earlier this afternoon. Forsaken—probably a few dozen of them.”
“Jace,” Clary whispered. “The Lightwoods—”
“The hellsmoke muted my ability to fight the Forsaken effectively. Theirs, too. I had to send them through the Portal into Idris.”
“But none of them were hurt?”
“Madeleine,” said Magnus. “Madeleine was killed. I’m sorry, Clary.”
Clary sank down onto the steps. She hadn’t known the older woman well, but Madeleine had been a tenuous connection to her mother—her real mother, the tough, fighting Shadowhunter that Clary had never known.
“Clary?” Luke was coming up the path through the gathering dark. He had Clary’s suitcase in one hand. “What’s going on?”
Clary sat hugging her knees while Magnus explained. Underneath her pain for Madeleine she was full of a guilty relief. Jace was all right. The Lightwoods were all right. She said it over and over to herself, silently. Jace is all right.
“The Forsaken,” Luke said. “They were all killed?”
“Not all of them.” Magnus shook his head. “After I sent the Lightwoods through the Portal, the Forsaken dispersed; they didn’t seem interested in me. By the time I shut the Portal, they were all gone.”
Clary raised her head. “The Portal’s closed? But—you can still send me to Idris, right?” she asked. “I mean, I can go through the Portal and join the Lightwoods there, can’t I?”
Luke and Magnus exchanged a look. Luke set the suitcase down by his feet.
“Magnus?” Clary’s voice rose, shrill in her own ears. “I have to go.”
“The Portal is closed, Clary—”
“Then open another one!”
“It’s not that easy,” the warlock said. “The Clave guards any magical entry into Alicante very carefully. Their capital is a holy place to them—it’s like their Vatican, their Forbidden City. No Downworlders can come there without permission, and no mundanes.”
“But I’m a Shadowhunter!”
“Only barely,” said Magnus. “Besides, the towers prevent direct Portaling to the city. To open a Portal that went through to Alicante, I’d have to have them standing by on the other side expecting you. If I tried to send you through on my own, it would be in direct contravention of the Law, and I’m not willing to risk that for you, biscuit, no matter how much I might like you personally.”
Clary looked from Magnus’s regretful face to Luke’s wary one. “But I need to get to Idris,” she said. “I need to help my mother. There must be some other way to get there, some way that doesn’t involve a Portal.”
“The nearest airport is a country over,” Luke said. “If we could get across the border—and that’s a big ‘if’—there would be a long and dangerous overland journey after that, through all sorts of Downworlder territory. It could take us days to get there.”
Clary’s eyes were burning. I will not cry, she told herself. I will not.
“Clary.” Luke’s voice was gentle. “We’ll get in touch with the Lightwoods. We’ll make sure they have all the information they need to get the antidote for Jocelyn. They can contact Fell—”
But Clary was on her feet, shaking her head. “It has to be me,” she said. “Madeleine said Fell wouldn’t talk to anyone else.”
“Fell? Ragnor Fell?” Magnus echoed. “I can try to get a message to him. Let him know to expect Jace.”
Some of the worry cleared from Luke’s face. “Clary, do you hear that? With Magnus’s help—”
But Clary didn’t want to hear any more about Magnus’s help. She didn’t want to hear anything. She had thought she was going to save her mother, and now there was going to be nothing for her to do but sit by her mother’s bedside, hold her limp hand, and hope someone else, somewhere else, would be able to do what she couldn’t.