“You’ve been thinking about him,” she said.
“You might have to be more specific,” Jace said, though she suspected he knew what she meant.
“Sebastian,” she said. “I mean, more than usual. And something’s bothering you. What is it?”
“What isn’t?” He started to walk away from her, across the marble floor toward the great double doors of the Hall, which were propped open. She followed him, stepped out onto the wide ledge above the staircase that led down to Angel Square. The sky was darkening to cobalt, the color of sea glass.
“Don’t,” Clary said. “Don’t shut yourself off.”
“I wasn’t going to.” He exhaled harshly. “It just isn’t anything new. Yeah, I think about him. I think about him all the time. I wish I didn’t. I can’t explain it, not to anyone but you, because you were there. It was like I was him, and now, when you tell me things like that he left that box in Amatis’s house, I know exactly why. And I hate that I know it.”
“Don’t tell me I’m not like him,” he said. “I am. Raised by the same father—we both have the benefits of Valentine’s special education. We speak the same languages. We learned the same style of fighting. We were taught the same morals. Had the same pets. It changed, of course; it all changed when I turned ten, but the foundations of your childhood, they stay with you. Sometimes I wonder if all of this is my fault.”
That jolted Clary. “You can’t be serious. Nothing you did when you were with Sebastian was your choice—”
“I liked it,” he said, and there was a rough undercurrent to his voice, as if the fact rasped at him like sandpaper. “He’s brilliant, Sebastian, but there are holes in his thinking, places where he doesn’t know—I helped him with that. We would sit there and we would talk about how to burn the world down, and it was exciting. I wanted it. Wipe it all clean, start again, a holocaust of fire and blood, and afterward, a shining city on a hill.”
“He made you think you wanted those things,” Clary said, but her voice shook slightly. You have a dark heart in you, Valentine’s daughter. “He made you give him what he wanted.”
“I liked giving it,” said Jace. “Why do you think I could so easily think of ways to break and destroy, but I now can’t think of any way to fix it? I mean, what does that qualify me for, exactly? A job in Hell’s army? I could be a general, like Asmodeus or Sammael.”
“They were the brightest servants of God, once,” Jace said. “That’s what happens when you fall. Everything that was bright about you becomes dark. As brilliant as you once were, that’s how evil you become. It’s a long way to fall.”
“You haven’t fallen.”
“Not yet,” he said, and then the sky exploded in spangles of red and gold. For a dizzy moment Clary remembered the fireworks that had painted the sky the night they had celebrated in Angel Square. Now she stepped back, trying to get a better view.
But this was no celebration. As her eyes adjusted to the brightness, she saw that the light was the demon towers. Each had lit like a torch, burning red and gold against the sky.
Jace had gone white. “The battle lights,” he said. “We have to get to the Gard.” He reached for her hand and began to tug her down the stairs.
Clary protested. “But my mother. Isabelle, Alec—”
“They’ll all be on their way to the Gard too.” They had reached the foot of the steps. Angel Square was filling with people flinging open the doors of their houses, emptying into the streets, all of them running toward the lighted path that ran up the side of the hill and to the Gard at the top. “That’s what the red-and-gold signal means. ‘Get to the Gard.’ That’s what they’ll expect us to do—” He ducked away from a Shadowhunter who was running past them while strapping on an arm guard. “What’s going on?” Jace shouted after him. “Why the alarm?”
“There’s been another attack!” an older man in worn gear shouted back over his shoulder.
“Another Institute?” Clary called. They were back at a shop-lined street she remembered visiting with Luke before; they were running uphill, but she didn’t feel breathless. Silently she thanked the past few months of training.
The man with the arm guard turned around and jogged uphill backward. “We don’t know yet. The attack’s ongoing.”
He spun back around and redoubled his speed, dashing up the curving street toward the bottom of the Gard path. Clary concentrated on not crashing into anyone in the crowd. They were a moving, jostling flood of people. She kept her hand in Jace’s as they ran, her new sword tapping against the outside of her leg as she went, as if to remind her it was there—there and ready to be used.
The path that led up to the Gard was steep, packed dirt. Clary tried to run carefully—she was wearing boots and jeans, her gear jacket zipped over the top, but it wasn’t quite as good as being all in gear. A pebble had worked its way into her left boot somehow and was stabbing into the pad of her foot by the time they reached the front gate of the Gard and slowed, staring.
The gates were thrown open. Within them was a wide courtyard, grassy in the summers, though it was bare now, surrounded by the interior walls of the Gard. Against one wall was a massive, swirling square of whirling air and emptiness.
A Portal. Within it, Clary thought she could glimpse hints of black and green and burning white, even a patch of sky dotted with stars—
Robert Lightwood loomed up in front of them, blocking their way; Jace nearly crashed into him, and let go of Clary’s hand, righting himself. The wind from the Portal was cold and powerful, blowing through the fabric of Clary’s gear jacket, lifting her hair. “What’s going on?” Jace demanded tersely. “Is this about the London attack? I thought that was rebuffed.”
Robert shook his head, his expression grim. “It seems that Sebastian, having been foiled in London, has turned his attention elsewhere.”
“Where—?” Clary began.
“The Adamant Citadel is besieged!” It was Jia Penhallow’s voice, rising over the shouts of the crowd. She had moved to stand by the Portal; the swirl of air within and without it made her cloak flap open like the wings of a great black bird. “We go to the aid of the Iron Sisters! Shadowhunters who are armed and ready, please report to me!”
The courtyard was full of Nephilim, though not as many as Clary had thought at first. It had seemed like a flood as they’d bolted up the hill to the Gard, but she saw now that it was more like a group of forty to fifty warriors. Some were in gear, some in street clothes. Not all were armed. Nephilim in the service of the Gard were darting back and forth to the open door of the armory, adding weapons to a pile of swords, seraph blades, axes, and maces heaped by the side of the Portal.
“Let us go through,” Jace said to Robert. All in gear and wrapped in the gray of the Inquisitor, Robert Lightwood reminded Clary of the hard, rocky side of a cliff: craggy and unmovable.
Robert shook his head. “There’s no need,” he said. “Sebastian has attempted a sneak attack. He has only twenty or thirty Endarkened warriors with him. There are enough warriors for the job without us sending our children through.”
“I am not a child,” Jace said savagely. Clary wondered what Robert thought when he looked at the boy he had adopted—if Robert saw Jace’s father in Jace’s face, or still searched for remnants of Michael Wayland that weren’t there. Jace scanned Robert Lightwood’s expression, suspicion darkening his gold eyes. “What are you doing? There’s something you don’t want me to know.”
Robert’s face set into hard lines. At that moment a blonde woman in gear brushed by Clary, speaking excitedly to her companion: “. . . told us that we can try to capture the Endarkened, bring them back here. See if they can be cured. Which means maybe they can save Jason.”
Clary looked daggers at Robert. “You’re not. You’re not letting people whose relatives were taken in the attacks go through. You’re not telling them the Endarkened can be saved.”
Robert gave her a grim look. “We don’t know that they can’t be.”
“We know,” Clary said. “They can’t be saved! They’re not who they were! They’re not human. But when these soldiers see the faces of people they know, they’ll hesitate, they’ll want it to not be true—”
“And they’ll be slaughtered,” Jace said bleakly. “Robert. You have to stop this.”
Robert was shaking his head. “This is the will of the Clave. This is what they want to see done.”
“Then why even send them through?” Jace demanded. “Why not just stay here and stab fifty of our own people to death? Save the time?”
“Don’t you dare joke,” Robert snapped.
“I wasn’t joking—”
“And don’t you tell me fifty Nephilim can’t defeat twenty Endarkened warriors.” Shadowhunters were beginning to go through the Portal, guided by Jia. Clary felt a tickle of panic run down her spine. Jia was letting through only those who were completely outfitted in gear, but quite a few were very young or very old, and many had come unarmed and were simply seizing up weapons from the pile provided by the armory, before passing through.
“Sebastian’s expecting exactly this response,” Jace said desperately. “If he’s come with only twenty warriors, then there’s a reason, and he’ll have backup—”
“He can’t have backup!” Robert’s voice rose. “You cannot open a Portal to the Adamant Citadel unless the Iron Sisters allow it. They’re allowing us, but Sebastian must have come over land. Sebastian didn’t expect us to be watching for him at the Citadel. He knows we know he can’t be tracked; he doubtless thought we were watching only Institutes. This is a gift—”
“Sebastian doesn’t give gifts!” Jace shouted. “You’re being blind!”
“We are not blind!” Robert roared. “You may be frightened of him, Jace, but he is just a boy; he is not the most brilliant military mind ever to exist! He fought you at the Burren, and he lost!”
Robert turned and wheeled away, striding toward Jia. Jace looked as if he had been slapped. Clary doubted anyone had ever accused him of being frightened before.
He turned to look at her. The movement of Shadowhunters toward the Portal had slowed; Jia was waving people away. Jace touched the shortsword at Clary’s hip. “I’m going through,” he said.
“They won’t let you,” Clary said.
“They don’t need to let me.” Under the red-and-gold lights of the towers, Jace’s face looked as if it had been cut out of marble. Behind him Clary could see more Shadowhunters coming up the hill. They were chatting among themselves as if this were any ordinary fight, any situation that could be handled by sending fifty or so Nephilim to the place of attack. They hadn’t been at the Burren. They hadn’t seen. They didn’t know. Clary met Jace’s eyes with hers.
She could see the lines of tension on his face, deepening the angles of his cheekbones, setting his jaw. “The question is,” he said, “is there any chance you’d agree to stay here?”
“You know there’s not,” she said.
He took a shuddering breath. “Right. Clary, this could be dangerous, really dangerous—” She could hear people murmuring around them, excited voices, rising against the night on puffs of exhaled air, people chattering that the Consul and Council had been meeting to discuss the London attack just as Sebastian popped into sudden existence on the tracking map, that he had only been there a short time and with few reinforcements, that they had a real chance to stop him, that he had been foiled in London and would be again—
“I love you,” she said. “But don’t try to stop me.”
Jace reached to take her hand. “All right,” he said. “Then we run, together. Toward the Portal.”
“We run,” she agreed, and they did.