City of Fallen Angels / Page 38

Page 38


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The demon woman's voice had dropped to a low chant. With a shock of surprise Clary realized that she now knew where she had heard it before. She saw her father, standing inside a pentagram, a black-haired woman with tentacles for eyes kneeling at his feet. The woman said, The child born with this blood in him will exceed in power the Greater Demons of the abysses between the worlds. But it will burn out his humanity, as poison burns the life from the blood.

"I know," Clary said through stiff lips. "I know who you are. I saw you cut your wrist and drip blood into a cup for my father. The angel Ithuriel showed it to me in a vision."

Simon's eyes darted back and forth between Clary and the woman, whose dark eyes held a hint of surprise. Clary guessed she didn't surprise easily. "I saw my father summon you. I know what he called you. My Lady of Edom. You're a Greater Demon. You gave your blood to make my brother what he is. You turned him into a-a horrible thing. If it weren't for you-"

"Yes. All that is true. I gave my blood to Valentine Morgenstern, and he put it in his baby boy, and this is the result." The woman placed her hand gently, almost as a caress, against the glass surface of Sebastian's coffin. There was the oddest smile on her face. "You might almost say that, in a way, I am Jonathan's mother."

"I told you that address didn't mean anything," Alec said.

Isabelle ignored him. The moment they had stepped through the doors of the building, the ruby pendant around her neck had pulsed, faintly, like the beat of a distant heart. That meant demonic presence. Under other circumstances she would have expected her brother to sense the weirdness of the place just like she did, but he was clearly too sunk in gloom about Magnus to concentrate.

"Get your witchlight," she said to him. "I left mine at home."

He shot her an irritated look. It was dark in the lobby, dark enough that a normal human wouldn't have been able to see. Maia and Jordan both had the excellent night vision of werewolves. They were standing at opposite ends of the room, Jordan examining the big marble lobby desk, and Maia leaning against the far wall, apparently examining her rings. "You're supposed to bring it with you everywhere," Alec replied.

"Oh? Did you bring your Sensor?" she snapped. "I didn't think so. At least I have this." She tapped the pendant. "I can tell you that there's something here. Something demonic."

Jordan's head snapped around. "There are demons here?"

"I don't know-maybe only one. It pulsed and faded," Isabelle admitted. "But it's too big a coincidence for this just to have been the wrong address. We have to check it out."

A dim light rose up all around her. She looked over and saw Alec holding up his witchlight, its blaze contained by his fingers. It threw strange shadows across his face, making him look older than he was, his eyes a darker blue. "So let's get going," he said. "We'll take it one floor at a time."

They moved toward the elevator, Alec first, then Isabelle, Jordan and Maia dropping into line behind them. Isabelle's boots had Soundless runes carved into the soles, but Maia's heels clicked on the marble floor as she walked. Frowning, she paused to discard them, and went barefoot the rest of the way. As Maia stepped into the elevator, Isabelle noticed that she wore a gold ring around her left big toe, set with a turquoise stone.

Jordan, glancing down at her feet, said in a surprised tone, "I remember that ring. I bought that for you at-"

"Shut up," Maia said, hitting the door close button. The doors slid shut as Jordan lapsed into silence.

They paused at every floor. Most were still under construction-there were no lights, and wires hung down from the ceilings like vines. Windows had plywood nailed over them. Drop cloths blew in the faint wind like ghosts. Isabelle kept a firm hand on her pendant, but nothing happened until they reached the tenth floor. As the doors opened, she felt a flutter against the inside of her cupped palm, as if she had been holding a tiny bird there and it had beaten its wings.

She spoke in a whisper. "There's something here."

Alec just nodded; Jordan opened his mouth to say something, but Maia elbowed him, hard. Isabelle slipped past her brother, into the hall outside the elevators. The ruby was pulsing and vibrating against her hand now like a distressed insect.

Behind her, Alec whispered, "Sandalphon." Light blazed up around Isabelle, illuminating the hall. Unlike some of the other floors they had seen, this one seemed at least partly finished. Bare granite walls rose around her, and the floor was smooth black tile. A corridor led in two directions. One ended in a heap of construction equipment and tangled wires. The other ended in an archway. Beyond the archway, black space beckoned.

Isabelle turned to look back at her companions. Alec had put away his witchlight stone and was holding a blazing seraph blade, lighting the interior of the elevator like a lantern. Jordan had produced a large, brutal-looking knife and was gripping it in his right hand. Maia seemed to be in the process of putting her hair up; when she lowered her hands, she was holding a long, razor-tipped pin. Her nails had grown, too, and her eyes held a feral, greenish gleam.

"Follow me," Isabelle said. "Quietly."

Tap, tap went the ruby against Isabelle's throat as she went down the hall, like the prodding of an insistent finger. She didn't hear the rest of them behind her, but she knew they were there from the long shadows cast against the dark granite walls. Her throat was tight, her nerves singing, the way they always did before she walked into battle. This was the part she liked least, the anticipation before the release of violence. During a fight nothing mattered but the fight itself; now she had to struggle to keep her mind on the task at hand.

The archway loomed above them. It was carved marble, oddly old-fashioned for such a modern building, its sides decorated with scrollwork. Isabelle glanced up briefly as she passed through, and almost started. The face of a grinning gargoyle was carved into the stone, leering down at her. She made a face at it and turned to look at the room she had entered.

It was vast, high-ceilinged, clearly meant to someday be a full loft apartment. The walls were floor-to-ceiling windows, giving out onto a view of the East River with Queens in the distance, the Coca-Cola sign flashing blood-red and navy blue down onto the black water. The lights of surrounding buildings hovered glittering in the night air like tinsel on a Christmas tree. The room itself was dark, and full of odd, humped shadows, spaced at regular intervals, low to the ground. Isabelle squinted, puzzled. They weren't animate; they appeared to be chunks of square, blocky furniture, but what-?

"Alec," she said softly. Her pendant was writhing as if alive, its ruby heart painfully hot against her skin.

In a moment her brother was beside her. He raised his blade, and the room was full of light. Isabelle's hand flew to her mouth. "Oh, dear God," she whispered. "Oh, by the Angel, no."

"You're not his mother." Simon's voice cracked as he said it; Lilith didn't even turn to look at him. She still had her hands on the glass coffin. Sebastian floated inside it, silent and unaware. His feet were bare, Simon noticed. "He has a mother. Clary's mother. Clary's his sister. Sebastian-Jonathan-won't be too pleased if you hurt her."

Lilith looked up at that, and laughed. "A brave attempt, Daylighter," she said. "But I know better. I saw my son grow up, you know. Often I visited him in the form of an owl. I saw how the woman who had given birth to him hated him. He has no love lost for her, nor should he, nor does he care for his sister. He is more like me than he is like Jocelyn Morgenstern." Her dark eyes moved from Simon to Jace and Clary. They had not moved, not really. Clary still stood in the circle of Jace's arms, with the knife near her throat. He held it easily, carelessly, as if he were barely paying attention. But Simon knew how quickly Jace's seeming uninterest could explode into violent action.

"Jace," said Lilith. "Step into the circle. Bring the girl with you."

Obediently Jace moved forward, pushing Clary ahead of him. As they crossed the barrier of the black-painted line, the runes inside the line flashed a sudden, brilliant red-and something else lit as well. A rune on the left side of Jace's chest, just above his heart, glowed suddenly, with such brightness that Simon closed his eyes. Even with his eyes closed, he could still see the rune, a vicious swirl of angry lines, printed against the inside of his eyelids.

"Open your eyes, Daylighter," Lilith snapped. "The time has come. Will you give me your blood, or will you refuse? You know the price if you do."

Simon looked down at Sebastian in his coffin-and did a double take. A rune that was the twin of the one that had just flashed on Jace's chest was visible on his bare chest as well, just beginning to fade as Simon stared down at him. In a moment it was gone, and Sebastian was still and white again. Unmoving. Unbreathing.

Dead.

"I can't bring him back for you," Simon said. "He's dead. I'd give you my blood, but he can't swallow it."

Her breath hissed through her teeth in exasperation, and for a moment her eyes glowed with a harsh acidic light. "First you must bite him," she said. "You are a Daylighter. Angel blood runs through your body, through your blood and tears, through the fluid in your fangs. Your Daylighter blood will revive him enough that he can swallow and drink. Bite him and give him your blood, and bring him back to me."

Simon stared at her wildly. "But what you're saying-you're saying I have the power to bring back the dead?"

"Since you've been a Daylighter you've had that power," she said. "But not the right to use it."

"The right?"

She smiled, tracing the tip of one long red-painted nail across the top of Sebastian's coffin. "History is written by the winners, they say," she said. "There might not be so much of a difference between the side of Light and the side of Dark as you suppose. After all, without the Dark, there is nothing for the Light to burn away."

Simon looked at her blankly.

"Balance," she clarified. "There are laws older than any you can imagine. And one of them is that you cannot bring back what is dead. When the soul has left the body, it belongs to death. And it cannot be taken back without a price to pay."

"And you're willing to pay it? For him?" Simon gestured toward Sebastian.

"He is the price." She threw her head back and laughed. It sounded almost like human laughter. "If the Light brings back a soul, then the Dark has the right to bring one back as well. This is my right. Or perhaps you should ask your little friend Clary what I'm talking about."

Simon looked at Clary. She looked as if she might pass out. "Raziel," she said faintly. "When Jace died-"

"Jace died?" Simon's voice went up an octave. Jace, despite being the subject under discussion, remained serene and expressionless, his knife hand steady.

"Valentine stabbed him," Clary said in an almost-whisper. "And then the Angel killed Valentine, and he said I could have anything I wanted. And I said I wanted Jace back, I wanted him back, and he brought him back-for me." Her eyes were huge in her small white face. "He was dead for only a few minutes ... hardly any time at all..."

"It was enough," breathed Lilith. "I was hovering near my son during his battle with Jace; I saw him fall and die. I followed Jace to the lake, I watched as Valentine slew him, and then as the Angel raised him again. I knew that was my chance. I raced back to the river and took my son's body from it... I kept it preserved for just this moment." She looked fondly down at the coffin. "Everything in balance. An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. A life for a life. Jace is the counterweight. If Jace lives, then so shall Jonathan."

Simon couldn't tear his eyes away from Clary. "What she's saying-about the Angel-it's true?" he said. "And you never told anyone?"

To his surprise it was Jace who answered. Brushing his cheek against Clary's hair, he said, "It was our secret."

Clary's green eyes flashed, but she didn't move.

"So you see, Daylighter," said Lilith, "I am only taking what is mine by right. The Law says that the one who was first brought back must be here in the circle when the second is returned." She indicated Jace with a contemptuous flick of her finger. "He is here. You are here. All is in readiness."

"Then you don't need Clary," said Simon. "Leave her out of it. Let her go."

"Of course I need her. I need her to motivate you. I cannot hurt you, Mark-bearer, or threaten you, or kill you. But I can cut out your heart when I cut out her life. And I will."

She looked toward Clary, and Simon's gaze followed hers.

Clary. She was so pale that she looked almost blue, though perhaps that was the cold. Her green eyes were vast in her pale face. A trickle of drying blood spilled from her collarbone to the neckline of her dress, now spotted with red. Her hands hung at her sides, loose, but they were shaking.

Simon saw her as she was, but also as she had been when she was seven years old, skinny arms and freckles and those blue plastic barrettes she'd worn in her hair until she was eleven. He thought of the first time he'd noticed she had a real girl's shape under the baggy T-shirt and jeans she always wore, and how he hadn't been sure if he should look or look away. He thought of her laugh and her quick pencil moving across a page, leaving intricately designed images behind: spired castles, running horses, brightly colored characters she'd made up in her head. You can walk to school by yourself, her mother had said, but only if Simon goes with you. He thought of her hand in his when they crossed the street, and his own sense of the awesome task that he had undertaken: the responsibility for her safety.

He had been in love with her once, and maybe some part of him always would be, because she had been his first. But that wasn't what mattered now. She was Clary; she was part of him; she always had been and would be forever. As he stared at her, she shook her head, very slightly. He knew what she was saying. Don't do it. Don't give her what she wants. Let whatever happens to me happen.


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