City of Heavenly Fire / Page 2

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A laugh went around the room; Sebastian smiled, and there was something horrible and beautiful about him, the way there was something horrible and beautiful about poisonous snakes and great white sharks. He was flanked by two companions, Emma realized: a woman with graying brown hair, an axe in her hands, and a tall figure wrapped entirely in a black cloak. No part of him was visible except the dark boots that showed beneath the hem of his robe. Only his height and breadth made her think he was a man at all.
 
“Is that the last of the Shadowhunters here?” Sebastian asked.
 
“There is the boy, Mark Blackthorn,” said the woman standing beside him, raising a finger and pointing at Mark. “He ought to be old enough.”
 
Sebastian looked down at Katerina, who had stopped spasming and lay still, her dark hair tangled across her face. “Get up, sister Katerina,” he said. “Go and bring Mark Blackthorn to me.”
 
Emma watched, rooted to the spot, as Katerina rose slowly to her feet. Katerina had been the tutor at the Institute for as long as Emma could remember; she had been their teacher when Tavvy had been born, when Jules’s mother had died, when Emma had first started physical training. She had taught them languages and bound up cuts and soothed scrapes and given them their first weapons; she had been like family, and now she stepped, blank-eyed, across the mess on the floor and reached out to seize Mark.
 
Dru gave a gasp, snapping Emma back to consciousness. Emma whirled, and placed Tavvy in Dru’s arms; Dru staggered a little and then recovered, clutching her baby brother tight. “Run,” Emma said. “Run to the office. Tell Julian I’ll be right there.”
 
Something of the urgency in Emma’s voice communicated itself; Drusilla didn’t argue, just clutched Tavvy more tightly and fled, her bare little feet soundless on the corridor floors. Emma spun back to stare down at the unfolding horror. Katerina was behind Mark, pushing him ahead, a dagger pressed to the space between his shoulder blades. He staggered and nearly stumbled in front of Sebastian; Mark was closer to the steps now, and Emma could see that he had been fighting. There were defensive wounds on his wrists and hands, cuts on his face, and there had doubtless been no time for healing runes. There was blood all over his right cheek; Sebastian looked at him, lip curling in annoyance.
 
“This one is not all Nephilim,” he said. “Part faerie, am I correct? Why was I not informed?”
 
There was a murmur. The brown-haired woman said, “Does it mean the Cup will not work on him, Lord Sebastian?”
 
“It means I don’t want him,” said Sebastian.
 
“We could take him to the valley of salt,” said the brown-haired woman. “Or to the high places of Edom, and sacrifice him there for the pleasure of Asmodeus and Lilith.”
 
“No,” Sebastian said slowly. “No, it would not be wise, I think, to do that to one with the blood of the Fair Folk.”
 
Mark spat at him.
 
Sebastian looked startled. He turned to Julian’s father. “Come and restrain him,” he said. “Wound him if you desire. I shall have only so much patience with your half-breed son.”
 
Mr. Blackthorn stepped forward, holding a broadsword. The blade was already stained with blood. Mark’s eyes widened with terror. The sword rose up—
 
The throwing knife left Emma’s hand. It flew through the air, and buried itself in Sebastian Morgenstern’s chest.
 
Sebastian staggered back, and Mr. Blackthorn’s sword hand fell to his side. The others were crying out; Mark leaped to his feet as Sebastian looked down at the blade in his chest, its handle protruding from his heart. He frowned.
 
“Ouch,” he said, and pulled the knife free. The blade was slick with blood, but Sebastian himself looked unbothered by the injury. He cast the weapon aside, staring upward. Emma felt those dark, empty eyes on her, like the touch of cold fingers. She felt him take the measure of her, sum her up and know her, and dismiss her.
 
“It’s a shame you won’t live,” he said to her. “Live to tell the Clave that Lilith has strengthened me beyond all measure. Perhaps Glorious could end my life. A pity for the Nephilim that they have no more favors they can ask of Heaven, and none of the puny instruments of war they forge in their Adamant Citadel can harm me now.” He turned to the others. “Kill the girl,” he demanded, flicking at his now bloody jacket with distaste.
 
Emma saw Mark lunge for the stairs, trying to get to her first, but the dark figure at Sebastian’s side had already seized Mark and was drawing him backward with black-gloved hands; those arms went around Mark, held him, almost as if protecting him. Mark was struggling, and then he was lost to Emma’s view as the Endarkened surged up the steps.
 
Emma turned and ran. She had learned to run on the beaches of California, where the sand shifted under her feet with every step, so on solid ground she was as fast as the wind. She hurtled down the hall, her hair flying out behind her, leaped and jumped down a short set of steps, spun to the right, and burst into the office. She slammed the door behind her and threw the bolt before turning to stare.
 
The office was a sizeable room, the walls lined with reference books. There was another library on the top floor as well, but this was where Mr. Blackthorn had run the Institute. There was his mahogany desk, and on it two telephones: one white and one black. The receiver was off the hook on the black phone, and Julian was holding the handset, shouting down the line: “You have to keep the Portal open! We’re not all safe yet! Please—”
 
The door behind Emma boomed and echoed as the Endarkened threw themselves against it; Julian looked up with alarm, and the receiver fell from his fingers as he saw Emma. She stared back at him, and past him, to where the whole eastern wall was glowing. In the center was a Portal, a rectangular-shaped hole in the wall through which Emma could see whirling silver shapes, a chaos of clouds and wind.
 
She staggered toward Julian, and he caught her by the shoulders. His fingers gripped her skin tightly, as if he couldn’t believe she was there, or real. “Emma,” he breathed, and then his voice picked up speed. “Em, where’s Mark? Where’s my father?”
 
She shook her head. “They can’t—I couldn’t—” She swallowed. “It’s Sebastian Morgenstern,” she said, and winced as the door shuddered again under another assault. “We have to go back for them—” she said, turning, but Julian’s hand was already around her wrist.
 
“The Portal!” he shouted over the sound of the wind and the battering at the door. “It goes to Idris! The Clave opened it! Emma—it’s going to stay open for only another few seconds!”
 
“But Mark!” she said, though she had no idea what they could do, how they could fight their way past the Endarkened crowding the hallway, how they could defeat Sebastian Morgenstern, who was more powerful than any ordinary Shadowhunter. “We have to—”
 
“Emma!” Julian shouted, and then the door burst open and the Endarkened poured into the room. She heard the brown-haired woman shrieking after her, something about how the Nephilim would burn, they would all burn in the fires of Edom, they would burn and die and be destroyed—
 
Julian bolted toward the Portal, dragging Emma by one hand; after one terrified look behind her, she let him pull her along. She ducked as an arrow sailed past them and smashed through a window on her right. Julian seized her frantically, wrapping his arms around her; she felt his fingers knot into the back of her shirt as they fell forward into the Portal and were swallowed up by the tempest.
 
 
Part One
 
Bring Forth a Fire
 
Therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.
 
—Ezekiel 28:14
 
1
THE PORTION OF THEIR CUP
 
“Picture something calming. The beach in Los Angeles—white sand, crashing blue water, you’re strolling along the tide line . . .”
 
Jace cracked an eye open. “This sounds very romantic.”
 
The boy sitting across from him sighed and ran his hands through his shaggy dark hair. Though it was a cold December day, werewolves didn’t feel weather as acutely as humans, and Jordan had his jacket off and his shirtsleeves rolled up. They were seated opposite each other on a patch of browning grass in a clearing in Central Park, both cross-legged, their hands on their knees, palms up.
 
An outcropping of rock rose from the ground near them. It was broken up into larger and smaller boulders, and atop one of the larger boulders perched Alec and Isabelle Lightwood. As Jace looked up, Isabelle caught his eye and gave him an encouraging wave. Alec, noting her gesture, smacked her shoulder. Jace could see him lecturing Izzy, probably about not breaking Jace’s concentration. He smiled to himself—neither of them really had a reason to be here, but they had come anyway, “for moral support.” Though, Jace suspected it had more to do with the fact that Alec hated to be at loose ends these days, Isabelle hated for her brother to be on his own, and both of them were avoiding their parents and the Institute.
 
Jordan snapped his fingers under Jace’s nose. “Are you paying any attention?”
 
Jace frowned. “I was, until we wandered into the territory of bad personal ads.”
 
“Well, what kind of thing does make you feel calm and peaceful?”
 
Jace took his hands off his knees—the lotus position was giving him wrist cramps—and leaned back on his arms. Chilly wind rattled the few dead leaves that still clung to the branches of the trees. Against the pale winter sky the leaves had a spare elegance, like pen and ink sketches. “Killing demons,” he said. “A good clean kill is very relaxing. The messy ones are more annoying, because you have to clean up afterward—”
 
“No.” Jordan held his hands up. Below the sleeves of his shirt, the tattoos that wrapped his arms were visible. Shaantih, shaantih, shaantih. Jace knew it meant “the peace that passes understanding” and that you were supposed to say the word three times every time you uttered the mantra, to calm your mind. But nothing seemed to calm his, these days. The fire in his veins made his mind race too, thoughts coming too quickly, one after another, like exploding fireworks. Dreams as vivid and saturated with color as oil paintings. He’d tried training it out of himself, hours and hours spent in the practice room, blood and bruises and sweat and once, even, broken fingers. But he hadn’t managed to do much more than irritate Alec with requests for healing runes and, on one memorable occasion, accidentally set fire to one of the crossbeams.
 
It was Simon who had pointed out that his roommate meditated every day, and who’d said that learning the habit was what had calmed the uncontrollable fits of rage that were often part of the transformation into a werewolf. From there it had been a short jump to Clary suggesting that Jace “might as well try it,” and here they were, at his second session. The first session had ended with Jace burning a mark into Simon and Jordan’s hardwood floor, so Jordan had suggested they take it outside for the second round to prevent further property damage.
 
“No killing,” Jordan said. “We’re trying to make you feel peaceful. Blood, killing, war, those are all non-peaceful things. Isn’t there anything else you like?”
 
“Weapons,” said Jace. “I like weapons.”
 
“I’m starting to think we have a problematic issue of personal philosophy here.”
 
Jace leaned forward, his palms flat on the grass. “I’m a warrior,” he said. “I was brought up as a warrior. I didn’t have toys, I had weapons. I slept with a wooden sword until I was five. My first books were medieval demonologies with illuminated pages. The first songs I learned were chants to banish demons. I know what brings me peace, and it isn’t sandy beaches or chirping birds in rain forests. I want a weapon in my hand and a strategy to win.”
 
Jordan looked at him levelly. “So you’re saying that what brings you peace is war.”
 
Jace threw his hands up and stood, brushing grass off his jeans. “Now you get it.” He heard the crackle of dry grass and turned, in time to see Clary duck through a gap between two trees and emerge into the clearing, Simon only a few steps behind her. Clary had her hands in her back pockets and she was laughing.
 
Jace watched them for a moment—there was something about looking at people who didn’t know they were being watched. He remembered the second time he had ever seen Clary, across the main room of Java Jones. She’d been laughing and talking with Simon the way she was doing now. He remembered the unfamiliar twist of jealousy in his chest, pressing out his breath, the feeling of satisfaction when she’d left Simon behind to come and talk to him.
 
Things did change. He’d gone from being eaten up with jealousy of Simon, to a grudging respect for his tenacity and courage, to actually considering him a friend, though he doubted he’d ever say so out loud. Jace watched as Clary looked over and blew him a kiss, her red hair bouncing in its ponytail. She was so small—delicate, doll-like, he had thought once, before he’d learned how strong she was.
 
She headed toward Jace and Jordan, leaving Simon to scamper up the rocky ground to where Alec and Isabelle were sitting; he collapsed beside Isabelle, who immediately leaned over to say something to him, her black curtain of hair hiding her face.
 
Clary stopped in front of Jace, rocking back on her heels with a smile. “How’s it coming along?”
 
“Jordan wants me to think about the beach,” Jace said gloomily.
 
“He’s stubborn,” Clary said to Jordan. “What he means is that he appreciates it.”
 
“I don’t, really,” said Jace.
 
Jordan snorted. “Without me you’d be bouncing down Madison Avenue, shooting sparks out of all your orifices.” He rose to his feet, shrugging on his green jacket. “Your boyfriend’s crazy,” he said to Clary.
 
“Yeah, but he’s hot,” said Clary. “So there’s that.”
 
Jordan made a face, but it was good-natured. “I’m heading out,” he said. “Got to meet Maia downtown.” He gave a mock salute and was gone, slipping into the trees and vanishing with the silent tread of the wolf he was under the skin. Jace watched him go. Unlikely saviors, he thought. Six months ago he wouldn’t have believed anyone who’d told him he was going to wind up taking behavioral lessons from a werewolf.
 
Jordan and Simon and Jace had struck up something of a friendship in the past months. Jace couldn’t help using their apartment as a refuge, away from the daily pressures of the Institute, away from the reminders that the Clave was still unprepared for war with Sebastian.
 
Erchomai. The word brushed the back of Jace’s mind like the touch of a feather, making him shiver. He saw an angel’s wing, torn from its body, lying in a pool of golden blood.
 
I am coming.
 
   
 
 
 
“What’s wrong?” Clary said; Jace suddenly looked a million miles away. Since the heavenly fire had entered his body, he’d tended to drift off more into his head. She had a feeling that it was a side effect of suppressing his emotions. She felt a little pang—Jace, when she had met him, had been so controlled, only a little of his real self leaking out through the cracks in his personal armor, like light through the chinks in a wall. It had taken a long time to break down those defenses. Now, though, the fire in his veins was forcing him to put them back up, to bite down on his emotions for safety’s sake. But when the fire was gone, would he be able to dismantle them again?
 
He blinked, called back by her voice. The winter sun was high and cold; it sharpened the bones of his face and threw the shadows under his eyes into relief. He reached for her hand, taking a deep breath. “You’re right,” he said in the quiet, more serious voice he reserved only for her. “It is helping—the lessons with Jordan. It is helping, and I do appreciate it.”
 
“I know.” Clary curled her hand around his wrist. His skin felt warm under her touch; he seemed to run several degrees hotter than normal since his encounter with Glorious. His heart still pounded its familiar, steady rhythm, but the blood being pushed through his veins seemed to thrum under her touch with the kinetic energy of a fire just about to catch.
 
She went up on her toes to kiss his cheek, but he turned, and their lips brushed. They’d done nothing more than kiss since the fire had first started singing in his blood, and they’d done even that carefully. Jace was careful now, his mouth sliding softly against hers, his hand closing on her shoulder. For a moment they were body to body, and she felt the thrum and pulse of his blood. He moved to pull her closer, and a sharp, dry spark passed between them, like the zing of static electricity.
 
Jace broke off the kiss and stepped back with an exhale; before Clary could say anything, a chorus of sarcastic applause broke out from the nearby hill. Simon, Isabelle, and Alec waved at them. Jace bowed while Clary stepped back slightly sheepishly, hooking her thumbs into the belt of her jeans.
 
Jace sighed. “Shall we join our annoying, voyeuristic friends?”
 
“Unfortunately, that’s the only kind of friends we have.” Clary bumped her shoulder against his arm, and they headed up toward the rocks. Simon and Isabelle were side by side, talking quietly. Alec was sitting a little apart, staring at the screen of his phone with an expression of intense concentration.
 
Jace threw himself down next to his parabatai. “I’ve heard that if you stare at those things enough, they’ll ring.”
 
“He’s been texting Magnus,” said Isabelle, glancing over with a disapproving look.
 
“I haven’t,” Alec said automatically.
 
“Yes, you have,” said Jace, craning to look over Alec’s shoulder. “And calling. I can see your outgoing calls.”
 
“It’s his birthday,” Alec said, flipping the phone shut. He looked smaller these days, almost skinny in his worn blue pullover, holes at the elbows, his lips bitten and chapped. Clary’s heart went out to him. He’d spent the first week after Magnus had broken up with him in a sort of daze of sadness and disbelief. None of them could really believe it. She’d always thought Magnus loved Alec, really loved him; clearly Alec had thought so too. “I didn’t want him to think that I didn’t—to think that I forgot.”
 
“You’re pining,” said Jace.
 
Alec shrugged. “Look who’s talking. ‘Oh, I love her. Oh, she’s my sister. Oh why, why, why—’ ”
 
Jace threw a handful of dead leaves at Alec, making him splutter.
 
Isabelle was laughing. “You know he’s right, Jace.”
 
“Give me your phone,” Jace said, ignoring Isabelle. “Come on, Alexander.”
 
“It’s none of your business,” Alec said, holding the phone away. “Just forget about it, okay?”
 
“You don’t eat, you don’t sleep, you stare at your phone, and I’m supposed to forget about it?” Jace said. There was a surprising amount of agitation in his voice; Clary knew how upset he’d been that Alec was unhappy, but she wasn’t sure Alec knew it. Under normal circumstances Jace would have killed, or at least threatened, anyone who hurt Alec; this was different. Jace liked to win, but you couldn’t win out over a broken heart, even someone else’s. Even someone you loved.
 
Jace leaned over and grabbed the phone out of his parabatai’s hand. Alec protested and reached for it, but Jace held him off with one hand, expertly scrolling through the messages on the phone with the other. “Magnus, just call me back. I need to know if you’re okay—” He shook his head. “Okay, no. Just no.” With a decisive move he snapped the phone in half. The screen went blank as Jace dropped the pieces to the ground. “There.”
 
Alec looked down at the shattered pieces in disbelief. “You BROKE my PHONE.”
 
Jace shrugged. “Guys don’t let other guys keep calling other guys. Okay, that came out wrong. Friends don’t let friends keep calling their exes and hanging up. Seriously. You have to stop.”
 
Alec looked furious. “So you broke my brand-new phone? Thanks a lot.”
 
Jace smiled serenely and lay back on the rock. “You’re welcome.”
 
“Look on the bright side,” Isabelle said. “You won’t be able to get texts from Mom anymore. She’s texted me six times today. I turned my phone off.” She patted her pocket with a significant look.
 
“What does she want?” Simon asked.
 
“Constant meetings,” Isabelle said. “Depositions. The Clave keeps wanting to hear what happened when we fought Sebastian at the Burren. We’ve all had to give accounts, like, fifty times. How Jace absorbed the heavenly fire from Glorious. Descriptions of the Dark Shadowhunters, the Infernal Cup, the weapons they used, the runes that were on them. What we were wearing, what Sebastian was wearing, what everyone was wearing . . . like phone sex but boring.”
 
Simon made a choking noise.
 
“What we think Sebastian wants,” Alec added. “When he’ll come back. What he’ll do when he does.”
 
Clary leaned her elbows on her knees. “Always good to know the Clave has a well-thought-out and reliable plan.”
 
“They don’t want to believe it,” said Jace, staring at the sky. “That’s the problem. No matter how many times we tell them what we saw at the Burren. No matter how many times we tell them how dangerous the Endarkened are. They don’t want to believe that Nephilim could really be corrupted. That Shadowhunters could kill Shadowhunters.”
 
Clary had been there when Sebastian had created the first of the Endarkened. She had seen the blankness in their eyes, the fury with which they’d fought. They terrified her. “They’re not Shadowhunters anymore,” she added in a low voice. “They’re not people.”
 
“It’s hard to believe that if you haven’t seen it,” Alec said. “And Sebastian has only so many of them. A small force, scattered—they don’t want to believe he’s really a threat. Or if he is a threat, they’d rather believe it was more a threat to us, to New York, than to Shadowhunters at large.”
 
“They’re not wrong that if Sebastian cares about anything, it’s about Clary,” Jace said, and Clary felt a cold shiver at her spine, a mixture of disgust and apprehension. “He doesn’t really have emotions. Not like we do. But if he did, he’d have them about her. And he has them about Jocelyn. He hates her.” He paused, thoughtful. “But I don’t think he’d be likely to strike directly here. Too . . . obvious.”
 
“I hope you told the Clave this,” Simon said.
 
“About a thousand times,” said Jace. “I don’t think they hold my insights in particularly high regard.”
 
Clary looked down at her hands. She had been deposed by the Clave, just like the rest of them; she’d given answers to all their questions. There were still things about Sebastian she hadn’t told them, hadn’t told anyone. The things he’d said he wanted from her.
 
She hadn’t dreamed much since they’d come back from the Burren with Jace’s veins full of fire, but when she did have nightmares, they were about her brother.
 
“It’s like trying to fight a ghost,” Jace said. “They can’t track Sebastian, they can’t find him, they can’t find the Shadowhunters he’s turned.”
 

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