City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments 6) - Page 27

8

STRENGTH IN WHAT REMAINS




Raphael stood, hands in his pockets, and looked up at the demon towers, shimmering dark red. “Something’s going on,” he said. “Something unusual.”


Simon wanted to snap back that the unusual thing that was going on was that he’d just been kidnapped and taken to Idris for the second time in his life, but he was feeling too nauseated. He’d forgotten the way a Portal seemed to take you apart when you went through it and reassemble you on the other side with important pieces missing.


Also, Raphael was right. Something was going on. Simon had been in Alicante before, and he remembered the roads and the canals, the hill rising over it all with the Gard at the top. He remembered that on ordinary nights the streets were quiet, lit by the pale glow of the towers. But there was noise tonight, largely coming from the Gard and the hill, where lights were dancing as if a dozen bonfires had been lit. The demon towers were glowing an eerie red-gold.


“They change the color of the towers to convey messages,” said Raphael. “Gold for marriages and celebrations. Blue for the Accords.”


“What does red mean?” Simon asked.


“Magic,” said Raphael, his dark eyes narrowed. “Danger.”


He turned in a slow circle, looking around the quiet street, the large houses by the canal side. He was about a head shorter than Simon. Simon wondered how old he’d been when he’d been Turned. Fourteen? Fifteen? Only a little older than Maureen. Who had Turned him? Magnus knew but had never told.


“The Inquisitor’s house is there,” Raphael said, and pointed at one of the largest of the houses, with a pointed roof and balconies out over the canal. “But it is dark.”


Simon couldn’t deny that fact, though his unbeating heart gave a little leap as he looked at the place. Isabelle was living there now; one of those windows was her window. “They must all be up at the Gard,” he said. “They do that, for meetings and things.” He had no fond memories of the Gard himself, having been imprisoned there by the last Inquisitor. “We could go up there, I guess. See what’s going on.”


“Yes, thank you. I am aware of their ‘meetings and things,’?” Raphael snapped, but he looked uncertain in a way Simon couldn’t recall him looking before. “Whatever is happening, it is Shadowhunter business. There is a house, not far from here, that has been granted to the vampire representative on the Council. We may go there.”


“Together?” Simon said.


“It is a very large house,” Raphael said. “You will be at one end of it and I at the other.”


Simon raised his eyebrows. He wasn’t entirely sure what he had expected would happen, but spending the night in a house with Raphael hadn’t occurred to him. It wasn’t that he thought Raphael was going to kill him in his sleep. But the thought of sharing living quarters with someone who seemed to dislike him intensely and always had was odd.


Simon’s vision was clear and precise now—one of the few things he really liked about being a vampire—and he could see details even at a distance. He saw her before she could have seen him. She was walking along quickly, her head down, her dark hair in the long braid she often wore it in when fighting. She was in gear, and her boots tapped against the cobblestones as she walked.


You’re a heartbreaker, Isabelle Lightwood.


Simon turned to Raphael. “Go away,” he said.


Raphael smirked. “La belle Isabelle,” he said. “It is hopeless, you know, you and she.”


“Because I’m a vampire and she’s a Shadowhunter?”


“No. She’s just—how do you say it—out of your league?”


Isabelle was halfway down the street now. Simon gritted his teeth. “Salt my game, and I’ll stake you. I mean it.”


Raphael shrugged innocently but didn’t move. Simon turned away from him and stepped out of the shadows, into the street.


Isabelle halted instantly, her hand going to the whip coiled at her belt. A moment later she blinked in shock, her hand dropping, her voice uncertain: “Simon?”


Simon felt suddenly awkward. Maybe she wouldn’t appreciate his suddenly appearing in Alicante like this—this was her world, not his. “I—” he began, but he got no further, because Isabelle had launched herself at him and thrown her arms around him, nearly knocking him off his feet.


Simon let himself close his eyes and bury his face against her neck. He could feel her heart beating, but violently pushed aside any thoughts of blood. She was soft and strong in his arms, her hair tickling his face, and holding her, he felt normal, wonderfully normal, like any teenage boy in love with a girl.


In love. He jerked back with a start and found himself looking at Izzy from a few inches away, her huge dark eyes shining. “I can’t believe you’re here,” she said, breathless. “I was wishing you were and thinking about how long it would be before I could see you, and—Oh, my God, what are you wearing?”


Simon looked down at his puffy shirt and leather pants. He was vaguely aware of Raphael, somewhere in the shadows, snickering. “It’s kind of a long story,” he said. “Do you think we could go inside?”






Magnus turned the silver box with the initials on it over in his hands, his cat’s eyes gleaming in the witchlit dimness of Amatis’s cellar.


Jocelyn was gazing at him with a look of curious anxiety. Luke couldn’t help thinking about all the times Jocelyn had taken Clary to Magnus’s loft when Clary had been a child, all the times the three of them had sat together, an unlikely trio, as Clary grew up and older and began to remember what she was supposed to forget. “Anything?” Jocelyn asked.


“You have to give me time,” Magnus said, poking the box with a finger. “Magical booby-traps, curses, the like, they can be pretty subtly hidden.”


“Take your time,” said Luke, leaning back against a table shoved into a cobwebby corner. Long ago it had been his mother’s kitchen table. He recognized the pattern of careless knife marks across the wooden top, even the dent in one of the legs he’d made when he’d kicked it as a teenager.


It had been Amatis’s for years. It had been hers when she’d been married to Stephen and had sometimes hosted dinner parties at the Herondale house. It had been hers after the divorce, after Stephen had moved out to the countryside manor house with his new wife. The whole cellar in fact was stacked with old furniture: items Luke recognized as having belonged to their parents, paintings and knickknacks from the time Amatis had been married. He wondered why she had hidden them away down here. Perhaps she hadn’t been able to bear to look at them.


“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it,” Magnus said finally, setting the box back on the shelf where Jocelyn had shoved it, unwilling to have the item in the house but unwilling to throw it away, either. He shivered and rubbed his hands together. He was swathed in a gray and black coat that made him look like a hard-boiled detective; Jocelyn hadn’t given him a chance to hang his coat up when he’d arrived on their doorstep, just grabbed him by the arm and dragged him down to the cellar. “No snares, no traps, no magic at all.”


Jocelyn looked a bit sheepish. “Thanks,” she said. “For looking at it. I can be a bit paranoid. And after what just happened in London—”


“What did happen in London?”


“We don’t know that much,” said Luke. “We got a fire-message about it this afternoon from the Gard, but not a lot of details. London was one of the few Institutes that hadn’t emptied yet. Apparently Sebastian and his forces tried to attack. They were rebuffed by some kind of protection spell, something even the Council didn’t know about. Something that warned the Shadowhunters what was coming and led them to safety.”


“A ghost,” Magnus said. A smile hovered around his mouth. “A spirit, sworn to protect the place. She’s been there for a hundred and thirty years.”


“She?” Jocelyn said, leaning back against a dusty wall. “A ghost? Really? What was her name?”


“You would recognize her last name, if I told it to you, but she wouldn’t like that.” Magnus’s gaze was faraway. “I hope this means she’s found peace.” He snapped back to attention. “Anyway,” he said. “I hadn’t meant to drag the conversation in this direction. It isn’t why I came to you.”


“I guessed as much,” said Luke. “We appreciate the visit, though I admit I was surprised to see you on our doorstep. It’s not where I thought you’d go.”


I thought you’d go to the Lightwoods’ hung in the air between them, unsaid.


“I had a life before Alec,” Magnus snapped. “I’m the High Warlock of Brooklyn. I am here to take a Council seat on behalf of Lilith’s Children.”


“I thought Catarina Loss was the warlock representative,” said Luke, surprised.


“She was,” Magnus admitted. “She made me take her place so I could come here and see Alec.” He sighed. “She in fact made this particular pitch to me while we were in the Hunter’s Moon. And that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”


Luke sat down on the rickety table. “Did you see Bat?” he asked. Bat tended to set up office in the Hunter’s Moon during the days, rather than the police station; it was unofficial, but everyone knew that was where to find him.


“Yes. He’d just gotten a call from Maia.” Magnus ran a hand through his black hair. “Sebastian doesn’t exactly appreciate being rebuffed,” he said slowly, and Luke felt his nerves tighten. Magnus was clearly hesitant to impart bad news. “It looks like after he attempted to attack the London Institute and was unsuccessful, he turned his attention to the Praetor Lupus. Apparently he doesn’t have much use for lycanthropes—can’t turn them into Endarkened—so he burned the place to the ground and murdered them all. He killed Jordan Kyle in front of Maia. He let her live so she could deliver a message.”


Jocelyn hugged her arms around herself. “My God.”


“What was the message?” Luke said, finding his voice.


Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult
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