City of Fallen Angels / Page 31

Page 31


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Max smiled a clear bright smile and held out something in his hand. It was a silver-handled dagger-Stephen Herondale's silver-handled dagger, the one from the box. Jace recognized it at once. "Take this," Max said. "And turn it against yourself. The part of you that is here in the dream with me must die. What will rise up afterward will be cleansed."

Jace took the knife.

Max smiled. "Good. There are many of us here on the other side who are worried about you. Your father is here."

"Not Valentine-"

"Your real father. He told me to tell you to use this. It will cut away everything rotten in your soul."

Max smiled like an angel as Jace turned the knife toward himself, blade inward. Then at the last moment Jace hesitated. It was too close to what Valentine had done to him, piercing him through the heart. He took the blade and cut a long incision into his right forearm, from elbow to wrist. There was no pain. He switched the knife to the right hand and did the same to his other arm. Blood exploded from the long cuts on his arms, brighter red than blood in real life, blood the color of rubies. It spilled down his skin and pattered onto the grass.

He heard Max breathe out softly. The boy bent down and touched the fingers of his right hand to the blood. When he raised them, they were glittering scarlet. He took a step toward Jace, and then another. This close up, Jace could see Max's face clearly-his poreless child's skin, the translucence of his eyelids, his eyes-Jace didn't remember him having such dark eyes. Max put his hand to the skin of Jace's chest, just over his heart, and with the blood he began to trace a design there, a rune. Not one Jace had ever seen before, with overlapping corners and strange angles to its shape.

Done, Max dropped his hand and stepped back, head cocked to the side, an artist examining his latest work. A sudden spear of agony went through Jace. It felt as if the skin on his chest were burning. Max stood watching him, smiling, flexing his bloody hand. "Does it hurt you, Jace Lightwood?" he said, and his voice was no longer Max's voice, but something else, high and husky and familiar.

"Max-," Jace whispered.

"As you have dealt pain, so shall you be dealt pain," said Max, whose face had begun to shimmer and change. "As you have caused grief, so shall you feel grief. You are mine now, Jace Lightwood. You are mine."

The agony was blinding. Jace crumpled forward, hands clawing at his chest, and he tumbled into darkness.

Simon sat on the couch, his face in his hands. His mind was buzzing. "This is my fault," he said. "I might as well have killed Maureen when I drank her blood. She's dead because of me."

Jordan sprawled in the armchair opposite him. He was wearing jeans and a green tee over a long-sleeved thermal shirt with holes in the cuffs; he had his thumbs stuck through them, and was worrying at the material. The gold Praetor Lupus medal around his neck glinted. "Come on," he said. "There's no way you could have known. She was fine when I put her in the cab. These guys must have grabbed her and killed her later."

Simon felt light-headed. "But I bit her. She's not going to come back, right? She's not going to be a vampire?"

"No. Come on, you know this stuff as well as I do. You'd have to have given her some of your blood for her to become a vampire. If she'd drunk your blood and then died, yeah, we'd be out in the graveyard on stake watch. But she didn't. I mean, I assume you'd remember something like that."

Simon tasted sour blood in the back of his throat. "They thought she was my girlfriend," he said. "They warned me they'd kill her if I didn't show up, and when I didn't come, they cut her throat. She must have waited there all day, wondering if I'd come. Hoping I'd show up..." His stomach revolted, and he bent over, breathing hard, trying to keep from gagging.

"Yeah," said Jordan, "but the question is, who is they?" He gave Simon a hard look. "I think it might be time for you to call the Institute. I don't love the Shadowhunters, but I've always heard their archives are incredibly thorough. Maybe they've got something on that address from the note."

Simon hesitated.

"Come on," Jordan said. "You do enough crap for them. Let them do something for you."

With a shrug Simon went to get his phone. Heading back to the living room, he dialed Jace's number. Isabelle picked up on the second ring. "You again?"

"Sorry," Simon said awkwardly. Apparently their little interlude in the Sanctuary hadn't softened her toward him as much as he had hoped. "I was looking for Jace, but I guess I can talk to you-"

"Charming as always," said Isabelle. "I thought Jace was with you."

"No." Simon felt a stirring of unease. "Who told you that?"

"Clary," Isabelle said. "Maybe they're sneaking some time together or something." She sounded unworried, which made sense; the last person who'd lie about Jace's whereabouts if he was in any sort of trouble was Clary. "Anyway, Jace left his phone in his room. If you do see him, remind him he's supposed to be at the party at the Ironworks tonight. If he doesn't show, Clary will kill him."

Simon had nearly forgotten that he was supposed to be at the party that night.

"Right," he said. "Look, Isabelle. I've got a problem here."

"Spill. I love problems."

"I don't know if you're going to love this one," he said dubiously, and filled her in quickly on the situation. She gave a little gasp when he got to the part where he'd bitten Maureen, and he felt his throat tighten.

"Simon," she whispered.

"I know, I know," he said wretchedly. "You think I'm not sorry? I'm beyond sorry."

"If you'd killed her, you'd have broken the Law. You'd be an outlaw. I'd have to kill you."

"But I didn't," he said, his voice shaking a little. "I didn't do this. Jordan swears that she was fine when he put her into the cab. And the newspaper says her throat was cut. I didn't do that. Someone did it to get to me. I just don't know why."

"We're not done with this issue." Her voice was stern. "But first go get the note they left. Read it out to me."

Simon did as asked, and was rewarded by a sharp intake of breath on Isabelle's part.

"I thought that address sounded familiar," she said. "That's where Clary told me to meet her yesterday. It's a church, uptown. The headquarters of some sort of demon-worshipping cult."

"What would a demon-worshipping cult want with me?" Simon said, and received a curious look from Jordan, who was only hearing half the conversation.

"I don't know. You're a Daylighter. You've got crazy powers. You're going to be a target for lunatics and black magicians. That's just how it is." Isabelle, Simon felt, could have sounded a bit more sympathetic. "Look, you're going to the Ironworks party, right? We can meet there and talk next steps. And I'll tell my mom about what's been going on with you. They're already investigating the Church of Talto, so they can add that to the info pile."

"I guess," Simon said. The last thing in the world he felt like was going to a party.

"And bring Jordan with you," Isabelle said. "You can use a bodyguard."

"I can't do that. Maia's going to be there."

"I'll talk to her," Isabelle said. She sounded a lot more confident than Simon would have felt in her place. "See you there."

She clicked off. Simon turned to Jordan, who was lying down across the futon, his head propped against one of the woven throw pillows. "How much of that did you hear?"

"Enough to gather that we're going to a party tonight," said Jordan. "I heard about the Ironworks event. I'm not in the Garroway pack, so I wasn't invited."

"I guess you're coming as my date now." Simon shoved the phone back into his pocket.

"I'm secure enough in my masculinity to accept that," said Jordan. "We'd better get you something nice to wear, though," he called as Simon headed back into his room. "I want you to look pretty."

***

Years previously, when Long Island City had been a center of industry instead of a trendy neighborhood full of art galleries and coffee shops, the Ironworks was a textile factory. Now it was an enormous brick shell whose inside had been transformed into a spare but beautiful space. The floor was made up of overlapping squares of brushed steel; slender steel beams arced overhead, wrapped with ropes of tiny white lights. Ornate wrought iron staircases spiraled up to catwalks decorated with hanging plants. A massive cantilevered glass ceiling opened onto a view of the night sky. There was even a terrace outside, built out over the East River, with a spectacular view of the Fifty-Ninth Street Bridge, which loomed overhead, stretching from Queens to Manhattan like a spear of tinseled ice.

Luke's pack had outdone themselves making the place look nice. There were artfully placed huge pewter vases holding long-stemmed ivory flowers, and tables covered in white linen arranged in a circle around a raised stage on which a werewolf string quartet provided classical music. Clary couldn't help wishing Simon were there; she was pretty sure he'd think Werewolf String Quartet was a good name for a band.

Clary wandered from table to table, arranging things that didn't need arranging, fiddling with flowers and straightening silverware that wasn't actually crooked. Only a few of the guests had arrived so far, and none of them were people she knew. Her mother and Luke stood near the door, greeting people and smiling, Luke looking uncomfortable in a suit, and Jocelyn radiant in a tailored blue dress. After the events of the past few days, it was good to see her mother looking happy, though Clary wondered how much of it was real and how much was for show. There was a certain tightness about Jocelyn's mouth that made Clary worry-was she actually happy, or just smiling through the pain?

Not that Clary didn't know how she felt. Whatever else was going on, she couldn't put Jace out of her mind. What were the Silent Brothers doing to him? Was he all right? Were they going to be able to fix what was wrong with him, to block out the demon influence? She had spent a sleepless night the evening before staring into the darkness of her bedroom and worrying until she felt literally sick.

More than anything else, she wished he was here. She had picked out the dress she was wearing tonight-pale gold and more fitted to her body than anything she usually wore-with the express hope that Jace would like it; now he wasn't going to see her in it. That was a shallow thing to worry about, she knew; she'd go around dressed in a barrel for the rest of her life if it meant Jace would get better. Besides, he was always telling her she was beautiful, and he never complained about the fact that she mostly wore jeans and sneakers, but she had thought he would like this.

Standing in front of her mirror tonight, she had almost felt beautiful. Her mother had always said that she herself had been a late bloomer, and Clary, looking at her own reflection, had wondered if the same thing might happen to her. She wasn't flat as a board anymore-she'd had to go up a bra size this past year-and if she squinted, she thought she could see-yes, those were definitely hips. She had curves. Small ones, but you had to start somewhere.

She'd kept her jewelry simple-very simple.

She put her hand up and touched the Morgenstern ring on its chain around her throat. She had put it on again, for the first time in days, that morning. She felt as if it were a silent gesture of confidence in Jace, a way of signaling her loyalty, whether he knew about it or not. She had decided she would wear it until she saw him again.

"Clarissa Morgenstern?" said a soft voice at her shoulder.

Clary turned in surprise. The voice wasn't familiar. Standing there was a slim tall girl who looked about twenty. Her skin was milk-pale, threaded with veins the clear green of sap, and her blond hair had the same greenish tint. Her eyes were solid blue, like marbles, and she wore a slip of a blue dress, so thin that Clary thought she had to be freezing. Memory swam up slowly from the depths.

"Kaelie," Clary said slowly, recognizing the faerie waitress from Taki's who had served her and the Lightwoods more than once. A flicker reminded her that there had been some intimation that Kaelie and Jace had once had a fling, but the fact seemed so minor in the face of everything else that she couldn't bring herself to mind it. "I didn't realize-do you know Luke?"

"Do not mistake me for a guest at this occasion," said Kaelie, her thin hand tracing a casually indifferent gesture on the air. "My lady sent me here to find you-not to attend the festivities." She glanced curiously over her shoulder, her all-blue eyes shining. "Though I had not realized that your mother was marrying a werewolf."

Clary raised her eyebrows. "And?"

Kaelie looked her up and down with some amusement. "My lady said you were quite flinty, despite your small size. In the Court you would be looked down on for having such short stature."

"We're not in the Court," said Clary. "And we're not in Taki's, which means you came to me, which means you have five seconds to tell me what the Seelie Queen wants. I don't like her much, and I'm not in the mood for her games."

Kaelie pointed a thin green-nailed finger at Clary's throat. "My lady said to ask you," she said, "why you wear the Morgenstern ring. Is it to acknowledge your father?"

Clary's hand stole to her throat. "It's for Jace-because Jace gave it to me," she said before she could help herself, and then cursed herself quietly. It wasn't smart to tell the Seelie Queen more than you had to.

"But he is not a Morgenstern," said Kaelie, "but a Herondale, and they have their own ring. A pattern of herons, rather than morning stars. And does that not suit him better, a soul that soars like a bird in flight, rather than falling like Lucifer?"

"Kaelie," Clary ground out between her teeth. "What does the Seelie Queen want?"

The faerie girl laughed. "Why," she said, "only to give you this." She held out something in her hand, a tiny silver bell pendant, with a loop at the end of the handle so that it could be strung on a chain. As Kaelie moved her hand forward, the bell chimed, light and as sweet as rain.


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