“They’re not going to—”
“I gave my word. I’ll stand by it.” Valentine’s tone was final. “If you hear nothing from Malachi by midnight, open the gate.” Seeing Sebastian’s hesitation, Valentine looked impatient. “I need you to do this, Jonathan. I can’t wait here for midnight; it’ll take me nearly an hour to get to the lake through the tunnels, and I have no intention of letting the battle drag on very long. Future generations must know how quickly the Clave lost, and how decisive our victory was.”
“It’s just that I’ll be sorry to miss the summoning. I’d like to be there when you do it.” Sebastian’s look was wistful, but there was something calculated beneath it, something sneering and grasping and planning and strangely, deliberately … cold. Not that Valentine seemed bothered.
To Jace’s bafflement, Valentine touched the side of Sebastian’s face, a quick, undisguisedly affectionate gesture, before turning away and moving toward the far end of the cavern, where thick clots of shadows gathered. He paused there, a pale figure against the darkness. “Jonathan,” he called back, and Jace glanced up, unable to help himself. “You will look upon the Angel’s face someday. After all, you will inherit the Mortal Instruments once I am gone. Perhaps one day you, too, will summon Raziel.”
“I’d like that,” Sebastian said, and stood very still as Valentine, with a final nod, disappeared into the darkness. Sebastian’s voice dropped to a half whisper. “I’d like it very much,” he snarled. “I’d like to spit in his bastard face.” He whirled, his face a white mask in the dim light. “You might as well come out, Jace,” he said. “I know you’re here.”
Jace froze—but only for a second. His body moved before his mind had time to catch up, catapulting him to his feet. He ran for the tunnel entrance, thinking only of making it outside, of getting a message, somehow, to Luke.
But the entrance was blocked. Sebastian stood there, his expression cool and gloating, his arms outstretched, his fingers almost touching the tunnel walls. “Really,” he said, “you didn’t actually think you were faster than me, did you?”
Jace skidded to a halt. His heart beat unevenly in his chest, like a broken metronome, but his voice was steady. “Since I’m better than you in every other conceivable way, it did stand to reason.”
Sebastian just smiled. “I could hear your heart beating,” he said softly. “When you were watching me with Valentine. Did it bother you?”
“That you seem to be dating my dad?” Jace shrugged. “You’re a little young for him, to be honest.”
“What?” For the first time since Jace had met him, Sebastian seemed flabbergasted. Jace was able to enjoy it for only a moment, though, before Sebastian’s composure returned. But there was a dark glint in his eye that indicated he hadn’t forgiven Jace for making him lose his calm. “I wondered about you sometimes,” Sebastian went on, in the same soft voice. “There seemed to be something to you, on occasion, something behind those yellow eyes of yours. A flash of intelligence, unlike the rest of your mud-stupid adoptive family. But I suppose it was only a pose, an attitude. You’re as foolish as the rest, despite your decade of good upbringing.”
“What do you know about my upbringing?”
“More than you might think.” Sebastian lowered his hands. “The same man who brought you up, brought me up. Only he didn’t tire of me after the first ten years.”
“What do you mean?” Jace’s voice came out in a whisper, and then, as he stared at Sebastian’s unmoving, unsmiling face, he seemed to see the other boy as if for the first time—the white hair, the black anthracite eyes, the hard lines of his face, like something chiseled out of stone—and he saw in his mind the face of his father as the angel had showed it to him, young and sharp and alert and hungry, and he knew. “You,” he said. “Valentine’s your father. You’re my brother.”
But Sebastian was no longer standing in front of him; he was suddenly behind him, and his arms were around Jace’s shoulders as if he meant to embrace him, but his hands were clenched into fists. “Hail and farewell, my brother,” he spat, and then his arms jerked up and tightened, cutting off Jace’s breath.
Clary was exhausted. A dull, pounding headache, the aftereffect of drawing the Alliance rune, had taken up residence in her frontal lobe. It felt like someone trying to kick a door down from the wrong side.
“Are you all right?” Jocelyn put her hand on Clary’s shoulder. “You look like you aren’t feeling well.”
Clary glanced down—and saw the spidering black rune that crossed the back of her mother’s hand, the twin of the one on Luke’s palm. Her stomach tightened. She was managing to deal with the fact that within a few hours her mother might actually be fighting an army of demons—but only by willfully pushing down the thought every time it surfaced.
“I’m just wondering where Simon is.” Clary rose to her feet. “I’m going to go get him.”
“Down there?” Jocelyn gazed worriedly down at the crowd. It was thinning out now, Clary noted, as those who had been Marked flooded out the front doors into the square outside. Malachi stood by the doors, his bronze face impassive as he directed Downworlders and Shadowhunters where to go.
“I’ll be fine.” Clary edged past her mother and Luke toward the dais steps. “I’ll be right back.”
People turned to stare as she descended the steps and slipped into the crowd. She could feel the eyes on her, the weight of the staring. She scanned the crowd, looking for the Lightwoods or Simon, but saw nobody she knew—and it was hard enough seeing anything over the throng, considering how short she was. With a sigh Clary slipped away toward the west side of the Hall, where the crowd was thinner.
The moment she neared the tall line of marble pillars, a hand shot out from between two of them and pulled her sideways. Clary had time to gasp in surprise, and then she was standing in the darkness behind the largest of the pillars, her back against the cold marble wall, Simon’s hands gripping her arms. “Don’t scream, okay? It’s just me,” he said.
“Of course I’m not going to scream. Don’t be ridiculous.” Clary glanced from side to side, wondering what was going on—she could see only bits and pieces of the larger Hall, in between the pillars. “But what’s with the James Bond spy stuff? I was coming to find you anyway.”
“I know. I’ve been waiting for you to come down off the dais. I wanted to talk to you where no one else could hear us.” He licked his lips nervously. “I heard what Raphael said. What he wanted.”
“Oh, Simon.” Clary’s shoulders sagged. “Look, nothing happened. Luke sent him away—”
“Maybe he shouldn’t have,” Simon said. “Maybe he should have given Raphael what he wanted.”
She blinked at him. “You mean you? Don’t be stupid. There’s no way—”
“There is a way.” His grip on her arms tightened. “I want to do this. I want Luke to tell Raphael that the deal is on. Or I’ll tell him myself.”
“I know what you’re doing,” Clary protested. “And I respect it and I admire you for it, but you don’t have to do it, Simon, you don’t have to. What Raphael’s asking for is wrong, and nobody will judge you for not sacrificing yourself for a war that isn’t yours to fight—”
“But that’s just it,” Simon said. “What Raphael said was right. I am a vampire, and you keep forgetting it. Or maybe you just want to forget. But I’m a Downworlder and you’re a Shadowhunter, and this fight is both of ours.”
“But you’re not like them—”
“I am one of them.” He spoke slowly, deliberately, as if to make absolutely sure that she understood every word he was saying. “And I always will be. If the Downworlders fight this war with the Shadowhunters, without the participation of Raphael’s people, then there will be no Council seat for the Night Children. They won’t be a part of the world Luke’s trying to create, a world where Shadowhunters and Downworlders work together. Are together. The vampires will be shut out of that. They’ll be the enemies of the Shadowhunters. I’ll be your enemy.”
“I could never be your enemy.”
“It would kill me,” Simon said simply. “But I can’t help anything by standing back and pretending I’m not part of this. And I’m not asking your permission. I would like your help. But if you won’t give it to me, I’ll get Maia to take me to the vampire camp anyway, and I’ll give myself up to Raphael. Do you understand?”
She stared at him. He was holding her arms so tightly she could feel the blood beating in the skin under his hands. She ran her tongue over her dry lips; her mouth tasted bitter. “What can I do,” she whispered, “to help you?”
She looked up at him incredulously as he told her. She was already shaking her head before he finished, her hair whipping back and forth, nearly covering her eyes. “No,” she said, “that’s a crazy idea, Simon. It’s not a gift; it’s a punishment—”
“Maybe not for me,” Simon said. He glanced toward the crowd, and Clary saw Maia standing there, watching them, her expression openly curious. She was clearly waiting for Simon.
Too fast, Clary thought. This is all happening much too fast.
“It’s better than the alternative, Clary.”
“It might not hurt me at all. I mean, I’ve already been punished, right? I already can’t go into a church, a synagogue; I can’t say—I can’t say holy names; I can’t get older; I’m already shut out from normal life. Maybe this won’t change anything.”
He let go of her arms, slid his hand around her side, and drew Patrick’s stele from her belt. He held it out to her. “Clary,” he said. “Do this for me. Please.”
She took the stele with numb fingers and raised it, touching the end of it to Simon’s skin, just above his eyes. The first Mark, Magnus had said. The very first. She thought of it, and her stele began to move the way a dancer begins to move when the music starts. Black lines traced themselves across his forehead like a flower unfolding on a speeded-up roll of film. When she was done, her right hand ached and stung, but as she drew back and stared, she knew she had drawn something perfect and strange and ancient, something from the very beginning of history. It blazed like a star above Simon’s eyes as he brushed his fingers across his forehead, his expression dazzled and confused.
“I can feel it,” he said. “Like a burn.”
“I don’t know what’ll happen,” she whispered. “I don’t know what long-term side effects it’ll have.”
With a twisted half smile, he raised his hand to touch her cheek. “Let’s hope we get the chance to find out.”
MAIA WAS SILENT MOST OF THE WAY TO THE FOREST, KEEPING her head down and glancing from side to side only occasionally, her nose wrinkled in concentration. Simon wondered if she was smelling their way, and he decided that although that might be a little weird, it certainly counted as a useful talent. He also found that he didn’t have to hurry to keep up with her, no matter how fast she moved. Even when they reached the beaten-down path that led into the forest and Maia started to run—swiftly, quietly, and staying low to the ground—he had no trouble matching her pace. It was one thing about being a vampire that he could honestly say he enjoyed.
It was over too soon; the woods thickened and they were running among the trees, over scuffed, thick-rooted ground dense with fallen leaves. The branches overhead made lacelike patterns against the starlit sky. They emerged from the trees in a clearing strewn with large boulders that gleamed like square white teeth. There were heaped piles of leaves here and there, as if someone had been over the place with a gigantic rake.
“Raphael!” Maia had cupped her hands around her mouth and was calling out in a voice loud enough to startle the birds out of the treetops high overhead. “Raphael, show yourself!”
Silence. Then the shadows rustled; there was a soft pattering sound, like rain hitting a tin roof. The piled leaves on the ground blew up into the air in tiny cyclones. Simon heard Maia cough; she had her hands up, as if to brush the leaves away from her face, her eyes.
As suddenly as the wind had come up, it settled. Raphael stood there, only a few feet from Simon. Surrounding him was a group of vampires, pale and still as trees in the moonlight. Their expressions were cold, stripped down to a bare hostility. He recognized some of them from the Hotel Dumort: the petite Lily and the blond Jacob, his eyes as narrow as knives. But just as many of them he had never seen before.
Raphael stepped forward. His skin was sallow, his eyes ringed with black shadow, but he smiled when he saw Simon.
“Daylighter,” he breathed. “You came.”
“I came,” Simon said. “I’m here, so—it’s done.”
“It’s far from done, Daylighter.” Raphael looked toward Maia. “Lycanthrope,” he said. “Return to your pack leader and thank him for changing his mind. Tell him that the Night Children will fight beside his people on Brocelind Plain.”
Maia’s face was tight. “Luke didn’t change—”
Simon interrupted her hastily. “It’s fine, Maia. Go.”
Her eyes were luminous and sad. “Simon, think,” she said. “You don’t have to do this.”
“Yes, I do.” His tone was firm. “Maia, thank you so much for bringing me here. Now go.”