City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments 6) - Page 33

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If you are leaving the Basilias, understand that it is against the advice of the Brothers that you do so.

“Right,” Jace said, pulling on his second gauntlet and flexing his fingers. “You’ve made that pretty clear.”

Brother Enoch loomed over him, glowering, as Jace bent down with slow precision to do up the laces on his boots. He was sitting on the edge of the infirmary bed, one of a line of white-sheeted cots that ran the length of the long room. Many of the other cots were taken up with Shadowhunter warriors, recovering from the battle at the Citadel. Silent Brothers moved among the beds like ghostly nurses. The air smelled of herbs and strange poultices.

You should take another night to rest, at least. Your body is spent, and the heavenly fire still burns within you.

Finished with his boots, Jace looked up. The arched ceiling above was painted with an interlaced design of healing runes in silver and blue. He’d been staring up at it for what felt like weeks, though he knew it had been only a night. The Silent Brothers, keeping all visitors away, had hovered over him with healing runes and poultices. They had also run tests on him, taking blood, hair, even eyelashes—touching him with a series of blades pressed to his skin: gold, silver, steel, rowan wood. He felt fine. He had a strong feeling that keeping him in the Basilias was more about studying the heavenly fire than it was about healing him.

“I want to see Brother Zachariah,” he said.

He is well. You need not worry yourself about him.

“I want to see him,” he said. “I nearly killed him at the Citadel—”

That was not you. That was the heavenly fire. And it did anything but harm him.

Jace blinked at the odd choice of words. “He said when I met him that he believes that a debt is owed the Herondales. I’m a Herondale. He’d want to see me.”

And then you intend to depart the Basilias?

Jace stood up. “There’s nothing wrong with me. I don’t need to be in the infirmary. Surely you could be using your resources more fruitfully on the actually wounded.” He caught his jacket off a hook by the bed. “Look, you can either bring me to Brother Zachariah or I can wander around yelling for him until he turns up.”

You are a great deal of trouble, Jace Herondale.

“So I’ve been told,” Jace said.

There were arched windows between the beds; they cast wide spokes of light across the marble floor. The day was beginning to dim: Jace had woken in the early afternoon, with a Silent Brother by his bed. He’d jerked upright, demanding to know where Clary was, as recollections of the night before poured through him: he recalled the pain when Sebastian had stabbed him, recalled the fire blazing up the blade, recalled Zachariah burning. Clary’s arms around him, her hair falling down around them both, the cessation of pain that had come with darkness. And then—nothing.

After the Brothers had reassured him that Clary was all right, safe at Amatis’s, he’d asked after Zachariah, whether the fire had harmed him, but had received only irritatingly vague answers.

Now he followed Enoch out of the infirmary hall and into a narrower, white-plastered corridor. Doors opened off the corridor. As they passed one, Jace caught a quick glimpse of a writhing body tied to a bed, and heard the sound of screaming and cursing. A Silent Brother stood over a thrashing man dressed in the remnants of red gear. Blood spattered the white wall behind them.

Amalric Kriegsmesser, said Brother Enoch without turning his head. One of Sebastian’s Endarkened. As you know, we have been attempting to reverse the spell of the Infernal Cup.

Jace swallowed. There didn’t seem anything to say. He had seen the ritual of the Infernal Cup performed. In his heart of hearts he didn’t believe the spell could be reversed. It created too fundamental a change. But then neither had he ever imagined that a Silent Brother could be as human as Brother Zachariah had always seemed. Was that why he was so determined to see him? He remembered what Clary had told him Brother Zachariah had said once, when she’d asked him if he’d ever loved anyone enough to die for them:

Two people. There are memories that time does not erase. Ask your friend Magnus Bane, if you do not believe me. Forever does not make loss forgettable, only bearable.

There had been something about those words, something that spoke of a sorrow and a sort of memory that Jace did not associate with the Brothers. They had been a presence in his life since he was ten: pale silent statues who brought healing, who kept secrets, who did not love or desire or grow or die but only were. But Brother Zachariah was different.

We are here. Brother Enoch had paused in front of an unremarkable white-painted door. He lifted a broad hand and knocked. There was a sound from inside, as of a chair scraping back, and then a male voice:

“Come in.”

Brother Enoch swung the door open and ushered Jace inside. The windows were west-facing, and it was very bright in the room, the light of the sun as it went down painting the walls with pale fire. There was a figure at the window: a silhouette, slender, not in the robes of a Brother—Jace turned to look at Brother Enoch in surprise, but the Silent Brother had already left, closing the door behind him.

“Where’s Brother Zachariah?” Jace said.

“I’m right here.” A quiet voice, soft, a little out of tune, like a piano that hadn’t been played in years. The figure had turned from the window. Jace found himself looking at a boy only a few years older than himself. Dark hair, a sharp delicate face, eyes that seemed young and old at the same time. The runes of the Brothers marked his high cheekbones, and as the boy turned, Jace saw the pale edge of a faded rune at the side of his throat.

A parabatai. Like he was. And Jace knew too what that faded rune meant: a parabatai whose other half was dead. He felt his sympathy leap toward Brother Zachariah, as he imagined himself without Alec, with only that faded rune to remind him where once he had been bonded to someone who knew all the best and worst parts of his soul.

“Jace Herondale,” said the boy. “Once more a Herondale is the bringer of my deliverance. I should have anticipated.”

“I didn’t—that’s not—” Jace was too stunned to think of anything clever to say. “It’s not possible. Once you’re a Silent Brother, you can’t change back. You—I don’t understand.”

The boy—Zachariah, Jace supposed, though not a Brother anymore—smiled. It was a heartbreakingly vulnerable smile, young and gentle. “I am not sure I entirely understand either,” he said. “But I was never an ordinary Silent Brother. I was brought into the life because there was a dark magic upon me. I had no other way to save myself.” He looked down at his hands, the unlined hands of a boy, smooth the way few Shadowhunters’ hands were smooth. The Brothers could fight as warriors, but rarely did. “I left everything I knew and everything I loved. Didn’t leave it entirely, perhaps, but erected a wall of glass between myself and the life I’d had before. I could see it, but I could not touch, could not be a part of it. I began to forget what it was like to be an ordinary human.”

“We’re not ordinary humans.”

Zachariah looked up. “Oh, we tell ourselves that,” he said. “But I have made a study of Shadowhunters now, over the past century, and let me tell you that we are more human than most human beings. When our hearts break, they break into shards that cannot be easily fit back together. I envy mundanes their resilience sometimes.”

“More than a century old? You seem pretty . . . resilient to me.”

“I thought I would be a Silent Brother forever. We—they don’t die, you know; they fade after many years. Stop speaking, stop moving. Eventually they are entombed alive. I thought that would be my fate. But when I touched you with my runed hand, when you were wounded, I absorbed the heavenly fire in your veins. It burned away the darkness in my blood. I became again the person I was before I took my vows. Before even that. I became what I have always wanted to be.”

Jace’s voice was hoarse. “Did it hurt?”

Zachariah looked puzzled. “I’m sorry?”

“When Clary stabbed me with Glorious, it was—agonizing. I felt as if my bones were melting down to ashes inside me. I kept thinking about that when I woke up—I kept thinking about the pain, and whether it hurt when you touched me.”

Zachariah looked at him in surprise. “You thought about me? About whether I was in pain?”

“Of course.” Jace could see their reflections in the window behind Zachariah. Zachariah was as tall as he was, but thinner, and with his dark hair and pale skin he looked like a photo negative of Jace.

“Herondales.” Zachariah’s voice was a breath, half laughter, half pain. “I had almost forgotten. No other family does so much for love, or feels so much guilt for it. Don’t carry the weight of the world on you, Jace. It’s too heavy for even a Herondale to bear.”

“I’m not a saint,” Jace said. “Maybe I should bear it.”

Zachariah shook his head. “You know, I think, the phrase from the Bible: ‘Mene mene tekel upharsin’?”

“?‘You have been weighed in the balance and have been found wanting.’ Yes, I know it. The Writing on the Wall.”

“The Egyptians believed that at the gate of the dead your heart was weighed on scales, and if it weighed more than a feather, your path was the path to Hell. The fire of Heaven takes our measure, Jace Herondale, like the scales of the Egyptians. If there is more evil in us than good, it will destroy us. I only just lived, and so did you. The difference between us is that I was only brushed by the fire, whereas it entered your heart. You carry it in you still, a great burden and a great gift.”

“But all I’ve been trying to do is get rid of it—”

“You cannot rid yourself of this.” Brother Zachariah’s voice had become very serious. “It is not a curse to be rid of; it is a weapon you have been entrusted with. You are the blade of Heaven. Make sure you are worthy.”

“You sound like Alec,” Jace said. “He’s always on about responsibility and worthiness.”

“Alec. Your parabatai. The Lightwood boy?”

“You . . .” Jace indicated the side of Zachariah’s throat. “You had a parabatai too. But your rune is faded.”

Zachariah looked down. “He is long dead,” he said. “I was—When he died, I—” He shook his head, frustrated. “For years I have spoken only with my mind, though you hear my thoughts as words,” he said. “The process of shaping language in the ordinary way, of finding speech, does not come easily to me now.” He raised his head to look at Jace. “Value your parabatai,” he said. “For it is a precious bond. All love is precious. It is why we do what we do. Why do we fight demons? Why are they not fit custodians of this world? What makes us better? It is because they do not build, but destroy. They do not love, but hate only. We are human and fallible, we Shadowhunters. But if we did not have the capacity to love, we could not guard humans; we must love them to guard them. My parabatai, he loved like few ever could love, with all and everything. I see you are like that too; it burns more brightly in you than the fire of Heaven.”

Brother Zachariah was looking at Jace, with a fierce intensity that felt as if it would strip the flesh off his bones. “I’m sorry,” Jace said quietly. “That you lost your parabatai. Is there anyone—anyone left for you to go home to?”

The boy’s mouth curved a little at the corner. “There is one. She has always been home for me. But not so soon. I must stay, first.”

“To fight?”

“And love and grieve. When I was a Silent Brother, my loves and losses were muted slightly, like music heard from a distance, true in tune but muffled. Now—now it has all come upon me at once. I am bowed under it. I must be stronger before I can see her.” His smile was wistful. “Have you ever felt that your heart contained so much that it must surely break apart?”

Jace thought of Alec wounded in his lap, of Max still and white on the floor of the Accords Hall; he thought of Valentine, his arms around Jace as Jace’s blood soaked the sand underneath them. And lastly he thought of Clary: her sharp bravery that kept him safe, her sharper wit that kept him sane, the steadiness of her love.

“Weapons, when they break and are mended, can be stronger at the mended places,” said Jace. “Perhaps hearts are the same.”

Brother Zachariah, who was now just a boy like Jace himself, smiled at him a little sadly. “I hope that you are right.”

“I can’t believe Jordan’s dead,” Clary said. “I just saw him. He was sitting on the wall at the Institute when we went through the Portal.”

She was walking beside Simon along one of the canals, heading toward the center of the city. The demon towers rose around them, their brilliance reflected in the canal waters.

Simon glanced sidelong at Clary. He kept thinking of the way she’d looked when he’d seen her the night before, blue and exhausted and barely conscious, her clothes ripped and bloody. She looked like herself again now, color in her cheeks, her hands in her pockets, the hilt of her sword protruding from her belt. “Neither can I,” he said.

Clary’s eyes were distant and bright; Simon wondered what she was remembering—Jordan teaching Jace to control his emotions in Central Park? Jordan in Magnus’s apartment, talking to a pentagram? Jordan the first time they’d ever seen him, ducking under a garage door to audition for Simon’s band? Jordan sitting on the sofa in his and Simon’s apartment, playing Xbox with Jace? Jordan telling Simon that he was sworn to protect him?

Simon felt hollow inside. He’d spent the night sleeping fitfully, waking up out of nightmares in which Jordan appeared and stood looking at him silently, hazel eyes asking Simon to help him, save him, while the ink on his arms ran like blood.

“Poor Maia,” she said. “I wish she were here; I wish we could talk to her. She’s had such a hard time, and now this—”

“I know,” Simon said, almost choking. Thinking about Jordan was bad enough. If he thought about Maia, too, he’d fall apart.

Clary responded to the abruptness in his tone by reaching out for his hand. “Simon,” she said. “Are you all right?”

He let her take his hand, loosely interlacing their fingers. He saw her glance down at the gold faerie ring he always wore.

“I don’t think so,” he said.

“No, of course not. How could you be? He was your—” Friend? Roommate? Bodyguard?

“Responsibility,” Simon said.

She looked taken aback. “No—Simon, you were his. He was your guard.”

“Come on, Clary,” Simon said. “What do you think he was doing at the Praetor Lupus headquarters? He never went there. If he was there, it was because of me, because he was looking for me. If I hadn’t gone and gotten myself kidnapped—”

“Gotten yourself kidnapped?” Clary snapped. “What, you volunteered to have Maureen kidnap you?”

“Maureen didn’t kidnap me,” he said in a low voice.

She looked at him, puzzled. “I thought she kept you in a cage at the Dumort. I thought you said—”

“She did,” Simon said. “But the only reason I was outside where she could get at me was because I was attacked by one of the Endarkened. I didn’t want to tell Luke and your mother,” he added. “I thought they’d freak out.”

“Because if Sebastian sent a Dark Shadowhunter after you, it was because of me,” said Clary tightly. “Did he want to kidnap you or kill you?”

“I didn’t really get a chance to ask him.” Simon shoved his hands into his pockets. “Jordan told me to run, so I ran—right into some of Maureen’s clan. She was having the apartment watched, evidently. I suppose that’s what I get for running off and leaving him. If I hadn’t, if I hadn’t been taken, he never would have gone out to the Praetor, and he never would have been killed.”

Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult