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City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments 3) Cassandra Clare 2022/8/5 16:59:57

I don’t believe you! Clary opened her mouth to fling the words in his face. There was no sound. It was like one of those nightmares where she would try to scream and scream and nothing would happen. Only a dry puff of air came from her mouth, the gasp of someone trying to scream with a cut throat.

Valentine shook his head. “Don’t bother trying to speak. I used a Rune of Silence, one of those that the Silent Brothers used, on the back of your neck. There’s a binding rune on your wrists, and another disabling your legs. I wouldn’t try to stand—your legs won’t hold you, and it’ll only cause you pain.”

Clary glared at him, trying to bore into him with her eyes, cut him with her hatred. But he took no notice. “It could have been worse, you know. By the time I dragged you onto the bank, the lake poison had already started its work. I’ve cured you of it, by the way. Not that I expect your thanks.” He smiled thinly. “You and I, we’ve never had a conversation, have we? Not a real conversation. You must be wondering why I never really seemed to have a father’s interest in you. I’m sorry if that hurt you.”

Now her stare went from hateful to incredulous. How could they have a conversation when she couldn’t even speak? She tried to force the words out, but nothing came from her throat but a thin gasp.

Valentine turned back to his altar and placed his hand on the Mortal Sword. The sword gave off a black light, a sort of reverse glow, as if it were sucking the illumination from the air around it. “I didn’t know your mother was pregnant with you when she left me,” he said. He was speaking to her, Clary thought, in a way he never had before. His tone was calm, even conversational, but it wasn’t that. “I knew there was something wrong. She thought she was hiding her unhappiness. I took some blood from Ithuriel, dried it to a powder, and mixed it with her food, thinking it might cure her unhappiness. If I’d known she was pregnant, I wouldn’t have done it. I’d already resolved not to experiment again on a child of my own blood.”

You’re lying, Clary wanted to scream at him. But she wasn’t sure he was. He still sounded strange to her. Different. Maybe it was because he was telling the truth.

“After she fled Idris, I looked for her for years,” he said. “And not just because she had the Mortal Cup. Because I loved her. I thought if I could only talk to her, I could make her see reason. I did what I did that night in a fit of rage, wanting to destroy her, destroy everything about our life together. But afterward I—” He shook his head, turning away to look out over the lake. “When I finally tracked her down, I’d heard rumors she’d had another child, a daughter. I assumed you were Lucian’s. He’d always loved her, always wanted to take her from me. I thought she must finally have given in. Have consented to have a child with a filthy Downworlder.” His voice tightened. “When I found her in your apartment in New York, she was still barely conscious. She spat at me that I’d made a monster out of her first child, and she’d left me before I could do the same to her second. Then she went limp in my arms. All those years I’d looked for her, and that was all I had with her. Those few seconds in which she looked at me with a lifetime’s worth of hate. I realized something then.”

He lifted Maellartach. Clary remembered how heavy even the half-turned Sword had been to hold, and saw as the blade rose that the muscles of Valentine’s arm stood out, hard and corded, like ropes snaking under the skin.

“I realized,” he said, “that the reason she left me was to protect you. Jonathan she hated, but you—she would have done anything to protect you. To protect you from me. She even lived among mundanes, which I know must have pained her. It must have hurt her never to be able to raise you with any of our traditions. You are half of what you could have been. You have your talent with runes, but it’s been squandered by your mundane upbringing.”

He lowered the Sword. The tip of it hung, now, just by Clary’s face; she could see it out of the corner of her eye, floating at the edge of her vision like a silvery moth.

“I knew then that Jocelyn would never come back to me, because of you. You are the only thing in the world she ever loved more than she loved me. And because of you she hates me. And because of that, I hate the sight of you.”

Clary turned her face away. If he was going to kill her, she didn’t want to see her death coming.

“Clarissa,” said Valentine. “Look at me.”

No. She stared at the lake. Far out across the water she could see a dim red glow, like fire sunk away into ashes. She knew it was the light of the battle. Her mother was there, and Luke. Maybe it was fitting that they were together, even if she wasn’t with them.

I’ll keep my eyes on that light, she thought. I’ll keep looking at it no matter what. It’ll be the last thing I ever see.

“Clarissa,” Valentine said again. “You look just like her, do you know that? Just like Jocelyn.”

She felt a sharp pain against her cheek. It was the blade of the Sword. He was pressing the edge of it against her skin, trying to force her to turn her head toward him.

“I’m going to raise the Angel now,” he said. “And I want you to watch as it happens.”

There was a bitter taste in Clary’s mouth. I know why you’re so obsessed with my mother. Because she was the one thing you thought you had total control over that ever turned around and bit you. You thought you owned her and you didn’t. That’s why you want her here, right now, to witness you winning. That’s why you’ll make do with me.

The Sword bit farther into her cheek. Valentine said, “Look at me, Clary.”

She looked. She didn’t want to, but the pain was too much—her head jerked to the side almost against her will, the blood dripping in great fat drops down her face, splattering the sand. A nauseous pain gripped her as she raised her head to look at her father.

He was gazing down at the blade of Maellartach. It, too, was stained with her blood. When he glanced back at her, there was a strange light in his eyes. “Blood is needed to complete this ceremony,” he said. “I intended to use my own, but when I saw you in the lake, I knew it was Raziel’s way of telling me to use my daughter’s instead. It’s why I cleared your blood of the lake’s taint. You are purified now—purified and ready. So thank you, Clarissa, for the use of your blood.”

And in some way, Clary thought, he meant it, meant his gratitude. He had long ago lost the ability to distinguish between force and cooperation, between fear and willingness, between love and torture. And with that realization came a rush of numbness—what was the point of hating Valentine for being a monster when he didn’t even know he was one?

“And now,” Valentine said, “I just need a bit more,” and Clary thought, A bit more what?—just as he swung the Sword back and the starlight exploded off it, and she thought, Of course. It’s not just blood he wants, but death. The Sword had fed itself on enough blood by now; it probably had a taste for it, just like Valentine himself. Her eyes followed Maellartach’s black light as it sliced toward her—

And went flying. Knocked out of Valentine’s hand, it hurtled into the darkness. Valentine’s eyes went wide; his gaze flicked down, fastening first on his bleeding sword hand—and then he looked up and saw, at the same moment that Clary did, what had struck the Mortal Sword from his grasp.

Jace, a familiar-looking sword gripped in his left hand, stood at the edge of a rise of sand, barely a foot from Valentine. Clary could see from the older man’s expression that he hadn’t heard Jace approach any more than she had.

Clary’s heart caught at the sight of him. Dried blood crusted the side of his face, and there was a livid red mark at his throat. His eyes shone like mirrors, and in the witchlight they looked black—black as Sebastian’s. “Clary,” he said, not taking his eyes off his father. “Clary, are you all right?”

Jace! She struggled to say his name, but nothing could pass the blockage in her throat. She felt as if she were choking.

“She can’t answer you,” said Valentine. “She can’t speak.”

Jace’s eyes flashed. “What have you done to her?” He jabbed the sword toward Valentine, who took a step back. The look on Valentine’s face was wary but not frightened. There was a calculation to his expression that Clary didn’t like. She knew she ought to feel triumphant, but she didn’t—if anything, she felt more panicked than she had a moment ago. She’d realized that Valentine was going to kill her—had accepted it—and now Jace was here, and her fear had expanded to encompass him as well. And he looked so … destroyed. His gear was ripped halfway open down one arm, and the skin beneath was crisscrossed with white lines. His shirt was torn across the front, and there was a fading iratze over his heart that had not quite managed to erase the angry red scar beneath it. Dirt stained his clothes, as if he’d been rolling around on the ground. But it was his expression that frightened her the most. It was so—bleak.

“A Rune of Quietude. She won’t be hurt by it.” Valentine’s eyes fastened on Jace—hungrily, Clary thought, as if he were drinking in the sight of him. “I don’t suppose,” Valentine asked, “that you’ve come to join me? To be blessed by the Angel beside me?”

Jace’s expression didn’t change. His eyes were fixed on his adoptive father, and there was nothing in them—no lingering shred of affection or love or memory. There wasn’t even any hatred. Just … disdain, Clary thought. A cold disdain. “I know what you’re planning to do,” Jace said. “I know why you’re summoning the Angel. And I won’t let you do it. I’ve already sent Isabelle to warn the army—”

“Warnings will do them little good. This is not the sort of danger you can run from.” Valentine’s gaze flicked down to Jace’s sword. “Put that down,” he began, “and we can talk—” He broke off then. “That’s not your sword. That’s a Morgenstern sword.”

Jace smiled, a dark, sweet smile. “It was Jonathan’s. He’s dead now.”

Valentine looked stunned. “You mean—”

“I took it from the ground where he’d dropped it,” Jace said, without emotion, “after I killed him.”

Valentine seemed dumbfounded. “You killed Jonathan? How could you have?”

“He would have killed me,” said Jace. “I had no choice.”

“I didn’t mean that.” Valentine shook his head; he still looked stunned, like a boxer who’d been hit too hard in the moment before he collapsed to the mat. “I raised Jonathan—I trained him myself. There was no better warrior.”

“Apparently,” Jace said, “there was.”

“But—” And Valentine’s voice cracked, the first time Clary had ever heard a flaw in the smooth, unruffled facade of that voice. “But he was your brother.”

“No. He wasn’t.” Jace took a step forward, nudging the blade an inch closer to Valentine’s heart. “What happened to my real father? Isabelle said he died in a raid, but did he really? Did you kill him like you killed my mother?”

Valentine still looked stunned. Clary sensed that he was fighting for control—fighting against grief? Or just afraid to die? “I didn’t kill your mother. She took her own life. I cut you out of her dead body. If I hadn’t done that, you would have died along with her.”

“But why? Why did you do it? You didn’t need a son; you had a son!” Jace looked deadly in the moonlight, Clary thought, deadly and strange, like someone she didn’t know. The hand that held the sword toward Valentine’s throat was unwavering. “Tell me the truth,” Jace said. “No more lies about how we’re the same flesh and blood. Parents lie to their children, but you—you’re not my father. And I want the truth.”

“It wasn’t a son I needed,” Valentine said. “It was a soldier. I had thought Jonathan might be that soldier, but he had too much of the demon nature in him. He was too savage, too sudden, not subtle enough. I feared even then, when he was barely out of infancy, that he would never have the patience or the compassion to follow me, to lead the Clave in my footsteps. So I tried again with you. And with you I had the opposite trouble. You were too gentle. Too empathic. You felt others’ pain as if it were your own; you couldn’t even bear the death of your pets. Understand this, my son—I loved you for those things. But the very things I loved about you made you no use to me.”

“So you thought I was soft and useless,” said Jace. “I suppose it will be surprising for you, then, when your soft and useless son cuts your throat.”

“We’ve been through this.” Valentine’s voice was steady, but Clary thought she could see the sweat gleaming at his temples, at the base of his throat. “You wouldn’t do that. You didn’t want to do it at Renwick’s, and you don’t want to do it now.”

“You’re wrong.” Jace spoke in a measured tone. “I have regretted not killing you every day since I let you go. My brother Max is dead because I didn’t kill you that day. Dozens, maybe hundreds, are dead because I stayed my hand. I know your plan. I know you hope to slaughter almost every Shadowhunter in Idris. And I ask myself: How many more have to die before I do what I should have done on Blackwell’s Island? No,” he said. “I don’t want to kill you. But I will.”

“Don’t do this,” said Valentine. “Please. I don’t want to—”