A murmur of assent ran around the Hall. Patrick Penhallow stepped forward and held a stele up to Clary. She took it gratefully and turned back to the crowd.
Her mouth went dry. Her adrenaline was still up, but it wasn’t enough to completely drown her stage fright. What was she supposed to do? What kind of rune could she create that would convince this crowd she was telling the truth? What would show them the truth?
She looked out then, through the crowd, and saw Simon with the Lightwoods, looking at her across the empty space that separated them. It was the same way that Jace had looked at her at the manor. It was the one thread that bound these two boys that she loved so much, she thought, their one commonality: They both believed in her even when she didn’t believe in herself.
Looking at Simon, and thinking of Jace, she brought the stele down and drew its stinging point against the inside of her wrist, where her pulse beat. She didn’t look down as she was doing it but drew blindly, trusting herself and the stele to create the rune she needed. She drew it faintly, lightly—she would need it only for a moment—but without a second’s hesitation.
The first thing she saw when she’d finished was Malachi. His face had gone white, and he was backing away from her with a look of horror. He said something—a word in a language she didn’t recognize—and then behind him she saw Luke, staring at her, his mouth slightly open. “Jocelyn?” Luke said.
She shook her head at him, just slightly, and looked out at the crowd. It was a blur of faces, fading in and out as she stared. Some were smiling, some glancing around the crowd in surprise, some turning to the person who stood next to them. A few wore expressions of horror or amazement, hands clamped over their mouths. She saw Alec glance quickly at Magnus, and then at her, in disbelief, and Simon looking on in puzzlement, and then Amatis came forward, shoving her way past Patrick Penhallow’s bulk, and ran up to the edge of the dais. “Stephen!” she said, looking up at Clary with a sort of dazzled amazement. “Stephen!”
“Oh,” Clary said. “Oh, Amatis, no,” and then she felt the rune magic slip from her, as if she’d shed a thin, invisible garment. Amatis’s eager face dropped, and she backed away from the dais, her expression half-crestfallen and half-amazed.
Clary looked out across the crowd. They were utterly silent, every face turned to her. “I know what you all just saw,” she said. “And I know that you know that that kind of magic is beyond any glamour or illusion. And I did that with one rune, a single rune, a rune that I created. There are reasons why I have this ability, and I know you might not like them or even believe them, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I can help you win this battle against Valentine, if you’ll let me.”
“There will be no battle against Valentine,” Malachi said. He didn’t meet her eyes as he spoke. “The Clave has decided. We will agree to Valentine’s terms and lay down our arms tomorrow morning.”
“You can’t do that,” she said, a tinge of desperation entering her voice. “You think everything will be all right if you just give up? You think Valentine will let you keep on living like you have already? You think he’ll confine his killing to demons and Downworlders?” She swept her gaze across the room. “Most of you haven’t seen Valentine in fifteen years. Maybe you’ve forgotten what he’s really like. But I know. I’ve heard him talk about his plans. You think you can still live your lives under Valentine’s rule, but you won’t be able to. He’ll control you completely, because he’ll always be able to threaten to destroy you with the Mortal Instruments. He’ll start with Downworlders, of course. But then he’ll go to the Clave. He’ll kill them first because he thinks they’re weak and corrupt. Then he’ll start in on anyone who has a Downworlder anywhere in their family. Maybe a werewolf brother”—her eyes swept over Amatis—“or a rebellious teenage daughter who dates the occasional faerie knight”—her eyes went to the Lightwoods—“or anyone who’s ever so much as befriended a Downworlder. And then he’ll go after anyone who’s ever employed the services of a warlock. How many of you would that be?”
“This is nonsense,” Malachi said crisply. “Valentine is not interested in destroying Nephilim.”
“But he doesn’t think anyone who associates with Downworlders is worthy of being called Nephilim,” Clary insisted. “Look, your war isn’t against Valentine. It’s against demons. Keeping demons from this world is your mandate, a mandate from heaven. And a mandate from heaven isn’t something you can just ignore. Downworlders hate demons too. They destroy them too. If Valentine has his way, he’ll spend so much of his time trying to murder every Downworlder, and every Shadowhunter who’s ever associated with them, that he’ll forget all about the demons, and so will you, because you’ll be so busy being afraid of Valentine. And they’ll overrun the world, and that will be that.”
“I see where this is going,” Malachi said through gritted teeth. “We will not fight beside Downworlders in the service of a battle we can’t possibly win—”
“But you can win it,” Clary said. “You can.” Her throat was dry, her head aching, and the faces in the crowd before her seemed to meld into a featureless blur, punctuated here and there by soft white explosions of light. But you can’t stop now. You have to keep going. You have to try. “My father hates Downworlders because he’s jealous of them,” she went on, her words tripping over one another. “Jealous and afraid of all the things they can do that he can’t. He hates that in some ways they’re more powerful than Nephilim, and I’d bet he’s not alone in that. It’s easy to be afraid of what you don’t share.” She took a breath. “But what if you could share it? What if I could make a rune that could bind each of you, each Shadowhunter, to a Downworlder who was fighting by your side, and you could share your powers—you could be as fast-healing as a vampire, as tough as a werewolf, or as swift as a faerie knight. And they, in turn, could share your training, your fighting skills. You could be an unbeatable force—if you’ll let me Mark you, and if you’ll fight with the Downworlders. Because if you don’t fight beside them, the rune won’t work.” She paused. “Please,” she said, but the word came almost inaudibly out of her dry throat. “Please let me Mark you.”
Her words fell into a ringing silence. The world moved in a shifting blur, and she realized that she’d delivered the last half of her speech staring up at the ceiling of the Hall and that the soft white explosions she’d seen had been the stars coming out in the night sky, one by one. The silence went on and on as her hands, at her sides, curled themselves slowly into fists. And then slowly, very slowly, she lowered her gaze and met the eyes of the crowd staring back at her.
THE SHADOWHUNTER’S TALE
CLARY SAT ON THE TOP STEP OF THE ACCORDS HALL, LOOKING out over Angel Square. The moon had come up earlier and was just visible over the roofs of the houses. The demon towers reflected back its light, silver-white. The darkness hid the scars and bruises of the city well; it looked peaceful under the night sky—if one didn’t look up at Gard Hill and the ruined outline of the citadel. Guards patrolled the square below, appearing and disappearing as they moved in and out of the illumination of the witchlight lamps. They studiously ignored Clary’s presence.
A few steps below her Simon was pacing back and forth, his footsteps utterly soundless. He had his hands in his pockets, and when he turned at the end of the stairs to walk back toward her, the moonlight glossed off his pale skin as if it were a reflective surface.
“Quit pacing,” she told him. “You’re just making me more nervous.”
“I feel like we’ve been out here forever.” Clary strained her ears, but she couldn’t hear more than the dull murmur of many voices coming through the closed double doors of the Hall. “Can you hear what they’re saying inside?”
Simon half-closed his eyes; he appeared to be concentrating hard. “A little,” he said after a pause.
“I wish I were in there,” Clary said, kicking her heels irritably against the steps. Luke had asked her to wait outside the doors while the Clave deliberated; he’d wanted to send Amatis out with her, but Simon had insisted on coming instead, saying it would be better to have Amatis inside, supporting Clary. “I wish I were part of the meeting.”
“No,” Simon said. “You don’t.”
She knew why Luke had asked her to wait outside. She could imagine what they were saying about her in there. Liar. Freak. Fool. Crazy. Stupid. Monster. Valentine’s daughter. Perhaps she was better off outside the Hall, but the tension of anticipating the Clave’s decision was almost painful.
“Maybe I can climb one of those,” Simon said, eyeing the fat white pillars that held up the slanted roof of the Hall. Runes were carved on them in overlapping patterns, but otherwise there were no visible handholds. “Work off steam that way.”
“Oh, come on,” Clary said. “You’re a vampire, not Spider-Man.”
Simon’s only response was to jog lightly up the steps to the base of a pillar. He eyed it thoughtfully for a moment before putting his hands to it and starting to climb. Clary watched him, openmouthed, as his fingertips and feet found impossible holds on the ridged stone. “You are Spider-Man!” she exclaimed.
Simon glanced down from his perch halfway up the pillar. “That makes you Mary Jane. She has red hair,” he said. He glanced out across the city, frowning. “I was hoping I could see the North Gate from here, but I’m not high enough.”
Clary knew why he wanted to see the gate. Messengers had been dispatched there to ask the Downworlders to wait while the Clave deliberated, and Clary could only hope they were willing to do it. And if they were, what was it like out there? Clary pictured the crowd waiting, milling, wondering….
The double doors of the Hall cracked open. A slim figure slipped through the gap, closed the door, and turned to face Clary. She was in shadow, and it was only when she moved forward, closer to the witchlight that illuminated the steps, that Clary saw the bright blaze of her red hair and recognized her mother.
Jocelyn looked up, her expression bemused. “Well, hello, Simon. Glad to see you’re … adjusting.”
Simon let go of the pillar and dropped, landing lightly at its base. He looked mildly abashed. “Hey, Mrs. Fray.”
“I don’t know if there’s any point in calling me that now,” said Clary’s mother. “Maybe you should just call me Jocelyn.” She hesitated. “You know, strange as this … situation … is, it’s good to see you here with Clary. I can’t remember the last time you two were apart.”
Simon looked acutely embarrassed. “It’s good to see you, too.”
“Thank you, Simon.” Jocelyn glanced at her daughter. “Now, Clary, would it be all right for us to talk for a moment? Alone?”
Clary sat motionless for a long moment, staring at her mother. It was hard not to feel like she was staring at a stranger. Her throat felt tight, almost too tight to speak. She glanced toward Simon, who was clearly waiting for a signal from her to tell him whether to stay or go. She sighed. “Okay.”
Simon gave Clary an encouraging thumbs-up before vanishing back into the Hall. Clary turned away and stared fixedly down into the square, watching the guards do their rounds, as Jocelyn came and sat down next to her. Part of Clary wanted to lean sideways and put her head on her mother’s shoulder. She could even close her eyes, pretend everything was all right. The other part of her knew that it wouldn’t make a difference; she couldn’t keep her eyes closed forever.
“Clary,” Jocelyn said at last, very softly. “I am so sorry.”
Clary stared down at her hands. She was, she realized, still holding Patrick Penhallow’s stele. She hoped he didn’t think she’d meant to steal it.
“I never thought I’d see this place again,” Jocelyn went on. Clary stole a sideways glance at her mother and saw that she was looking out over the city, at the demon towers casting their pale whitish light over the skyline. “I dreamed about it sometimes. I even wanted to paint it, to paint my memories of it, but I couldn’t do that. I thought if you ever saw the paintings, you might ask questions, might wonder how those images had ever come into my head. I was so frightened you’d find out where I was really from. Who I really was.”
“And now you have.” Jocelyn sounded wistful. “And you have every reason to hate me.”
“I don’t hate you, Mom,” Clary said. “I just …”
“Don’t trust me,” said Jocelyn. “I can’t blame you. I should have told you the truth.” She touched Clary’s shoulder lightly and seemed encouraged when Clary didn’t move away. “I can tell you I did it to protect you, but I know how that must sound. I was there, just now, in the Hall, watching you—”
“You were there?” Clary was startled. “I didn’t see you.”
“I was in the very back of the Hall. Luke had told me not to come to the meeting, that my presence would just upset everyone and throw everything off, and he was probably right, but I so badly wanted to be there. I slipped in after the meeting started and hid in the shadows. But I was there. And I just wanted to tell you—”
“That I made a fool out of myself?” Clary said bitterly. “I already know that.”
“No. I wanted to tell you that I was proud of you.”
Clary slewed around to look at her mother. “You were?”