City of Heavenly Fire / Page 15

Page 15


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“I’m going to kill Maureen,” Isabelle said. She had both doors of Alec’s wardrobe open and was flinging clothes onto the floor in heaps.
 
Simon was lying barefoot on one of the beds—Jace’s? Alec’s?—having kicked off his alarming buckled boots. Though his skin didn’t really bruise, it felt amazing to be on a soft surface after having spent so many hours on the hard, dirty floor of the Dumort. “You’ll have to fight your way through all the vampires of New York to do it,” he said. “Apparently they love her.”
 
“No accounting for taste.” Isabelle held up a dark blue sweater Simon recognized as Alec’s, mostly from the holes in the cuffs. “So Raphael brought you here so you could talk to my dad?”
 
Simon propped himself up on his elbows to watch her. “Do you think that’ll be okay?”
 
“Sure, why not. My dad loves talking.” She sounded bitter. Simon leaned forward, but when she raised her head, she was smiling at him and he thought he must have imagined it. “Although, who knows what will happen, with the attack on the Citadel tonight.” She worried at her lower lip. “It could mean they cancel the meeting, or move it earlier. Sebastian’s obviously a bigger problem than they thought. He shouldn’t even be able to get that close to the Citadel.”
 
“Well,” Simon said. “He is a Shadowhunter.”
 
“No, he’s not,” Isabelle said fiercely, and yanked a green sweater down from a wooden hanger. “Besides. He’s a man.”
 
“Sorry,” Simon said. “It must be nerve-racking, waiting to see how the battle turns out. How many people did they let through?”
 
“Fifty or sixty,” Isabelle said. “I wanted to go, but—they wouldn’t let me.” She had the guarded tone in her voice that meant they were closing in on a subject she didn’t want to talk about.
 
“I would have worried about you,” he said.
 
He saw her mouth quirk into a reluctant smile. “Try this on,” she said, and tossed him the green sweater, slightly less frayed than the rest.
 
“Are you sure it’s okay for me to borrow clothes?”
 
“You can’t go around like that,” she said. “You look like you escaped from a romance novel.” Isabelle laid a hand dramatically against her forehead. “Oh, Lord Montgomery, what do you mean to do with me in this bedroom when you have me all alone? An innocent maiden, and unprotected?” She unzipped her jacket and tossed it to the floor, revealing a white tank top. She gave him a sultry look. “Is my virtue safe?”
 
“I, ah—what?” Simon said, temporarily deprived of vocabulary.
 
“I know you are a dangerous man,” Isabelle declared, sashaying toward the bed. She unzipped her trousers and kicked them to the floor. She was wearing black boy shorts underneath. “Some call you a rake. Everybody knows you are a devil with the ladies with your poetically puffed shirt and irresistible pants.” She pounced onto the bed and crawled over to him, eyeing him like a cobra considering making a snack out of a mongoose. “I pray you will consider my innocence,” she breathed. “And my poor, vulnerable heart.”
 
Simon decided this was a lot like role-playing in D&D, but potentially much more fun. “Lord Montgomery considers nothing but his own desires,” he said in a gravelly voice. “I’ll tell you something else. Lord Montgomery has a very large estate . . . and pretty extensive grounds, too.”
 
Isabelle giggled, and Simon felt the bed shake under them. “Okay, I didn’t expect you to get quite so into this.”
 
“Lord Montgomery always surpasses expectations,” Simon said, seizing Isabelle around the waist and rolling her over so she was beneath him, her black hair spread out onto the pillow. “Mothers, lock up your daughters, then lock up your maidservants, then lock up yourselves. Lord Montgomery is on the prowl.”
 
Isabelle framed his face between her hands. “My lord,” she said, her eyes shining. “I fear I can no longer withstand your manly charms and virile ways. Please do with me as you will.”
 
Simon wasn’t sure what Lord Montgomery would do, but he knew what he wanted to do. He bent down and pressed a lingering kiss to her mouth. Her lips parted under his, and suddenly everything was all sweet dark heat and Isabelle’s lips brushing over his, first teasing, then harder. She smelled, as she always did, dizzyingly of roses and blood. He pressed his lips to the pulse point at her throat, mouthing over it gently, not biting, and Izzy gasped; her hands went to the front of his shirt. He was momentarily concerned about its lack of buttons, but Isabelle grasped the material in her strong hands and ripped the shirt in half, leaving it dangling off his shoulders.
 
“Goodness, that stuff rips like paper,” she exclaimed, reaching to pull her tank top off. She was halfway through the action when the door opened and Alec walked into the room.
 
“Izzy, are you—” he began. His eyes flew wide, and he backed up fast enough to smack his head into the wall behind him. “What is he doing here?”
 
Isabelle tugged her tank top back down and glared at her brother. “You don’t knock now?”
 
“It—It’s my bedroom!” Alec spluttered. He seemed to be deliberately trying not to look at Izzy and Simon, who were indeed in a very compromising position. Simon rolled quickly off Isabelle, who sat up, brushing herself off as if for lint. Simon sat up more slowly, trying to hold the torn edges of his shirt together. “Why are all my clothes on the floor?” Alec said.
 
“I was trying to find something for Simon to wear,” Isabelle explained. “Maureen put him in leather pants and a puffy shirt because he was being her romance-novel slave.”
 
“He was being her what?”
 
“Her romance-novel slave,” Isabelle repeated, as if Alec were being particularly dense.
 
Alec shook his head as if he were having a bad dream. “You know what? Don’t explain. Just—put your clothes on, both of you.”
 
“You’re not going to leave—are you?” Isabelle said in a sulky tone, sliding off the bed. She picked up her jacket and shrugged it on, then tossed Simon the green sweater. He happily swapped it for the poet shirt, which was in ribbons anyway.
 
“No. It’s my room, and besides, I need to talk to you, Isabelle.” Alec’s voice was terse. Simon grabbed up jeans and shoes from the floor and went into the bathroom to change, deliberately taking plenty of time with it. When he came back out, Isabelle was sitting on the rumpled bed, looking strained and tense.
 
“So they’re opening the Portal back up to bring everyone through? Good.”
 
“It is good, but what I felt”—Alec put his hand unconsciously over his upper arm, near his parabatai rune—“that isn’t good. Jace isn’t dead,” he hastened to add as Isabelle paled. “I would know if he were. But something happened. Something with the heavenly fire, I think.”
 
“Do you know if he’s okay now? And Clary?” Isabelle demanded.
 
“Wait, back up,” Simon interrupted. “What’s this about Clary? And Jace?”
 
“They went through the Portal,” Isabelle said grimly. “To the battle at the Citadel.”
 
Simon realized he had unconsciously reached for the gold ring on his right hand and was gripping it with his fingers. “Aren’t they too young?”
 
“They didn’t exactly have permission.” Alec was leaning back against the wall. He looked tired, the shadows under his eyes bruise-blue. “The Consul tried to stop them, but she didn’t have time.”
 
Simon turned on Isabelle. “And you didn’t tell me?”
 
Isabelle wouldn’t meet his eyes. “I knew you’d freak out.”
 
Alec was looking from Isabelle to Simon. “You didn’t tell him?” he said. “About what happened at the Gard?”
 
Isabelle crossed her arms over her chest and looked defiant. “No. I bumped into him in the street, and we came upstairs, and—and it’s none of your business.”
 
“It is if you do it in my bedroom,” said Alec. “If you’re going to use Simon to make yourself forget you’re angry and upset, fine, but do it in your own room.”
 
“I wasn’t using him—”
 
Simon thought about Isabelle’s eyes, shining when she’d seen him standing in the street. He’d thought it was happiness, but he realized now it had more likely been unshed tears. The way she’d been walking toward him, her head down, her shoulders curved in, as if she’d been holding herself together.
 
“You were, though,” he said. “Or you would have told me what happened. You didn’t even mention Clary or Jace, or that you were worried, or anything.” He felt his stomach clench as he realized how deftly Isabelle had deflected his questions and distracted him with kissing, and he felt stupid. He’d thought she was glad to see him specifically, but maybe he could have been anyone.
 
Isabelle’s face had gone very still. “Please,” she said. “It’s not like you asked.” She had been fiddling with her hair; now she reached up and began twisting it, almost savagely, into a knot on the back of her head. “If you’re both going to stand there blaming me, maybe you should just go—”
 
“I’m not blaming you,” Simon began, but Isabelle was already on her feet. She snatched the ruby pendant, pulled it none too gently over his head, and dropped it back around her own neck. “I never should have given it to you,” she said, her eyes bright.
 
“It saved my life,” Simon said.
 
That made her pause. “Simon . . . ,” she whispered.
 
She broke off as Alec suddenly clutched at his shoulder with a gasp. He slid to the floor. Isabelle ran to him and knelt down by his side. “Alec? Alec!” Her voice rose, tinged with panic.
 
Alec pushed aside his jacket, shoved down the collar of his shirt, and craned to see the mark on his shoulder. Simon recognized the outlines of the parabatai rune. Alec pressed his fingers to it; they came away smudged with something dark that looked like a smear of ash. “They’ve come back through the Portal,” he said. “And there’s something wrong with Jace.”
 
It was like returning to a dream, or a nightmare.
 
After the Mortal War, Angel Square had been full of bodies. Shadowhunter bodies, laid out in neat rows, each corpse with its eyes bound in the white silk of death.
 
There were bodies in the square again, but this time there was also chaos. The demon towers were shining down a brilliant light on the scene that greeted Simon when, having followed Isabelle and Alec through the winding streets of Alicante, he finally reached the Hall of Accords. The square was full of people. Nephilim in gear lay on the ground, some writhing in pain and calling out, some alarmingly still.
 
The Accords Hall itself was dark and shut tight. One of the larger stone buildings on the square was open and blazing with lights, double doors thrown wide. A stream of Shadowhunters was going in and out.
 
Isabelle had risen up on tiptoe and was scanning the crowd anxiously. Simon followed her gaze. He could make out a few familiar figures: the Consul moving anxiously among her people, Kadir from the New York Institute, Silent Brothers in their parchment robes directing people wordlessly toward the lighted building. “The Basilias is open,” Isabelle said to a haggard-looking Alec. “They might have taken Jace in there, if he was hurt—”
 
“He was hurt,” Alec said shortly.
 
“The Basilias?” Simon asked.
 
“The hospital,” Isabelle said, indicating the lighted building. Simon could feel her thrumming with nervous, panicked energy. “I should—we should—”
 
“I’ll go with you,” Simon said.
 
She shook her head. “Shadowhunters only.”
 
Alec said, “Isabelle. Come on.” He was holding the shoulder marked by his parabatai rune stiffly. Simon wanted to say something to him, wanted to say that his best friend had also gone into the battle and was also missing, wanted to say that he understood. But maybe you could only understand parabatai if you were a Shadowhunter. He doubted Alec would thank him for saying he understood. Rarely had Simon felt so keenly the divide between Nephilim and those who were not Nephilim.
 
Isabelle nodded and followed her brother without another word. Simon watched them go across the square, past the statue of the Angel, looking down on the aftermath of the battle with sad marble eyes. They went up the front steps of the Basilias and were lost to even his vampire sight.
 
“Do you think,” said a soft voice at his shoulder, “that they would mind much if we fed on their dead?”
 
It was Raphael. His curly hair was a mussed halo around his head, and he wore only a thin T-shirt and jeans. He looked like a child.
 
“The blood of the recently deceased is not my favorite vintage,” he went on, “but it is better than bottled blood, would you not agree?”
 
“You have an incredibly charming personality,” said Simon. “I hope someone’s told you that.”
 
Raphael snorted. “Sarcasm,” he said. “Tedious.”
 
Simon made an uncontrollable, exasperated noise. “You go ahead then. Feed on the Nephilim dead. I’m sure they’re really in the mood for that. They might let you live five, ten seconds even.”
 
Raphael chuckled. “It looks worse than it is,” he said. “There are not so many dead. Quite a lot injured. They were overmatched. They will not forget, now, what it means to fight the Endarkened.”
 
Simon narrowed his eyes. “What do you know about the Endarkened, Raphael?”
 
“Whispers and shadows,” said Raphael. “But I make it my business to know things.”
 
“Then if you know things, tell me where Jace and Clary are,” said Simon, without a lot of hope. Raphael was rarely helpful unless it was useful to him.
 
“Jace is in the Basilias,” said Raphael, to Simon’s surprise. “It appears the heavenly fire in his veins was finally too much for him. He nearly destroyed himself, and one of the Silent Brothers along with him.”
 
“What?” Simon’s anxiety sharpened from the general to the specific. “Is he going to live? Where’s Clary?”
 
Raphael cast him a look out of dark, long-lashed eyes; his smile was lopsided. “It does not do for vampires to fret overmuch for the lives of mortals.”
 
“I swear to God, Raphael, if you don’t start being more helpful—”
 
“Very well, then. Come with me.” Raphael moved farther into the shadows, keeping to the inside edge of the square. Simon hurried to catch up with him. He caught sight of a blond head and a dark head bent together—Aline and Helen, tending to one of the wounded—and thought for a moment of Alec and Jace.
 
“If you are wondering what would happen if you drank Jace’s blood now, the answer is that it would kill you,” said Raphael. “Vampires and heavenly fire do not mix. Yes, even you, Daylighter.”
 
“I wasn’t wondering that.” Simon scowled. “I was wondering what happened at the battle.”
 
“Sebastian attacked the Adamant Citadel,” said Raphael, moving around a tight knot of Shadowhunters. “Where the weapons of the Shadowhunters are forged. The place of the Iron Sisters. He tricked the Clave into believing he had a force of only twenty with him, when in fact he had more. He would have killed them all and taken the Citadel most likely, if not for your Jace—”
 
“He isn’t my Jace.”
 
“And Clary,” said Raphael, as if Simon hadn’t spoken. “Though I do not know the details. Only what I have overheard, and there seems much confusion among the Nephilim themselves as to what happened.”
 
“How did Sebastian manage to trick them into thinking he had fewer warriors than he did?”
 
Raphael shrugged a thin shoulder. “Shadowhunters forget sometimes that not all magic is theirs. The Citadel is built on ley lines. There is old magic, wild magic, that existed before Jonathan Shadowhunter, and will exist again—”
 
He broke off, and Simon followed his gaze. For a moment Simon saw only a sheet of blue light. Then it subsided and he saw Clary lying on the ground. He heard a roaring sound in his ears, like rushing blood. She was white and still, her fingers and mouth tinged a dark bluish purple. Her hair hung in lank straggles around her face, and her eyes were circled with shadows. She wore torn and bloody gear, and by her hand lay a Morgenstern sword, its blade stamped with stars.
 
Magnus was leaning over her, his hand on her cheek, the tips of his fingers glowing blue. Jocelyn and Luke knelt on the other side of Clary. Jocelyn looked up and saw Simon. Her lips shaped his name. He couldn’t hear anything over the roaring in his ears. Was Clary dead? She looked dead, or nearly.
 
He started forward, but Luke was already on his feet, reaching for Simon. He caught at Simon’s arms, pulled him back from where Clary lay on the ground.
 
Simon’s vampire nature gave him unnatural strength, strength he’d barely learned how to use yet, but Luke was just as strong. His fingers dug into Simon’s upper arms. “What happened?” Simon said, his voice rising. “Raphael—?” He whipped around to look for the vampire, but Raphael was gone; he had melted into the shadows. “Please,” Simon said to Luke, looking from his familiar face to Clary. “Let me—”
 
“Simon, no,” Magnus barked. He was tracing his fingertips over Clary’s face, leaving blue sparks in their wake. She didn’t move or react. “This is delicate—her energy is extremely low.”
 
“Shouldn’t she be in the Basilias?” Simon demanded, looking over at the hospital building. Light was still pouring from it, and to his surprise he saw Alec standing on the steps. He was staring at Magnus. Before Simon could move or signal to him, Alec turned abruptly and went back inside the building.
 
“Magnus—” Simon began.
 
“Simon, shut up,” Magnus said through gritted teeth. Simon twisted out of Luke’s grasp only to trip and fetch up against the side of a stone wall.
 
“But Clary—” he started.
 
Luke looked haggard, but his expression was firm. “Clary exhausted herself making a healing rune. But she’s not wounded, her body’s whole, and Magnus can help her better than the Silent Brothers can. The best thing you can do is stay out of the way.”
 
“Jace,” Simon said. “Alec felt something happen to him through the parabatai bond. Something to do with the heavenly fire. And Raphael was babbling about ley lines—”
 
“Look, the battle was bloodier than the Nephilim expected. Sebastian wounded Jace, but the heavenly fire rebounded on him, somehow. It nearly destroyed Jace as well. Clary saved Jace’s life, but there’s still work for the Brothers to do, healing him.” Luke looked at Simon with tired blue eyes. “And why were you with Isabelle and Alec? I thought you were going to stay behind in New York. Did you come because of Jordan?”
 
The name brought Simon up short. “Jordan? What does he have to do with anything?”
 
For the first time Luke seemed truly taken aback. “You don’t know?”
 
“Know what?”
 
Luke hesitated a long moment. Then he said, “I have something for you. Magnus brought it from New York.” He reached into his pocket and drew out a medallion on a chain. The medallion was gold, stamped with a wolf’s paw and the Latin inscription Beati Bellicosi.
 
Blessed are the warriors.
 
Simon knew it instantly. Jordan’s Praetor Lupus pendant. It was flaked and stained with blood. Dark red like rust, it clung to the chain and the medallion’s face. But if anyone knew what was rust and what was blood, it was a vampire. “I don’t understand,” Simon said. The roaring was back in his ears again. “Why do you have this? Why are you giving it to me?”
 
“Because Jordan wanted you to have it,” said Luke.
 
“Wanted?” Simon’s voice rose. “Don’t you mean ‘wants’?”
 
Luke took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, Simon. Jordan’s dead.”

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