City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments 6) - Page 55

Clary paled under the dirt on her face. “We thought he’d be with you.”


Alec shook his head. “He’s all right,” he said. “I’d know if he weren’t—”


But Clary had already spun back around and was half-running back the way she’d come; after a moment Alec followed her, and so did the others. She scrambled up the rise, and then up another rise. Alec realized she was heading for higher ground, where the view would be better. He could hear her coughing; his own lungs felt coated with ash.


Dead, he thought. Everything in this world is dead and burned to dust. What happened here?


At the top of the hill was a cairn of stones—a circle of smooth rocks, like a dried-out well. Seated on the edge of the cairn was Jace, staring at the ground.


“Jace!” Clary skidded to a halt in front of him, dropped to her knees, and caught at his shoulders. He looked at her blankly. “Jace,” she said again, urgently. “Jace, snap out of it. It’s not real. It’s a demon, making us see the things we want. Alec killed it. Okay? It’s not real.”


“I know.” He looked up, and Alec felt the look like a blow. Jace looked as if he’d been bleeding out, though he was obviously uninjured.


“What did you see?” Alec said. “Max?”


Jace shook his head. “I didn’t see anything.”


“It’s all right, whatever you saw. It’s all right,” Clary said. She leaned in, touched Jace’s face; Alec was reminded acutely of Magnus’s fingers on his cheek in the dream. Magnus saying he loved him. Magnus, who might not even still be alive. “I saw Sebastian,” she said. “I was in Idris. The Fairchild house was still standing. My mom was with Luke. I—there was going to be a wedding.” She swallowed. “I had a little sister, too. She was named after Valentine. He was a hero. Sebastian was there but he was fine, he was normal. He loved me. Like a real brother.”


“That’s messed up,” Simon said. He moved closer to Isabelle, and they stood shoulder to shoulder. Jace reached out and ran a careful finger down one of Clary’s curls, letting it wind around his hand. Alec remembered the first time he’d realized Jace was in love with her: He’d been watching his parabatai across a room, watching Jace’s eyes track her movements. He remembered thinking: She’s all he sees.


“We all have dreams,” Clary said. “It doesn’t mean anything. Remember what I said before? We stay together.”


Jace kissed her forehead and stood up, holding out a hand; after a moment Clary took it, and rose to her feet beside him. “I didn’t see anything,” he said gently. “All right?”


She hesitated, clearly not believing him; just as clearly, she didn’t want to press the point. “All right.”


“I hate to bring this up,” Isabelle said, “but did anyone see a way back?”


Alec thought of his headlong rush over the desert hills, searching for the others, eyes raking the horizon. He saw his companions pale as they glanced around. “I think,” he said, “that there is no way back. Not from here, not down the tunnel. I think it closed up after us.”


“So this was a one-way trip,” said Clary, with only a slight tremble to her voice.


“Not necessarily,” said Simon. “We have to get to Sebastian—we always knew that. And once we get there, Jace can try to do his thing with the heavenly fire, whatever that is—no offense—”


“None taken,” said Jace, casting his eyes up to the sky.


“And once we rescue the prisoners,” said Alec, “Magnus can help us get back. Or we can figure out how Sebastian gets back and forth; this can’t be the only way.”


“That’s optimistic,” said Isabelle. “What if we can’t rescue the prisoners, or we can’t kill Sebastian?”


“Then he’ll kill us,” said Jace. “And it won’t matter that we don’t know how to get back.”


Clary squared her small shoulders. “Then we’d better get to finding him, hadn’t we?”


Jace tugged his stele free of his pocket, and took Sebastian’s bracelet off his wrist. He closed his fingers around it, using the stele to draw a tracking rune on the back of his hand. A moment passed, and then another; a look of intense concentration passed over Jace’s face, like a cloud. He lifted his head.


“He’s not that far,” he said. “A day, maybe two days of walking away.” He slid the bracelet back onto his wrist. Alec looked at it pointedly, and then at Jace. If I cannot reach Heaven, I will raise Hell.


“Wearing it will keep me from losing it,” Jace said, and when Alec said nothing, Jace shrugged and started off down the hill. “We should get moving,” he called back over his shoulder. “We’ve got a long way to go.”





15

BRIMSTONE AND SALT




“Please don’t rip my hand off,” Magnus said. “I like that hand. I need that hand.”


“Hmph,” said Raphael, who was kneeling beside him, his hands on the chain that ran between the manacle on Magnus’s right hand and the adamas loop sunk deep into the floor. “I am only trying to help.” He jerked, hard, on the chain, and Magnus yelped in pain and glared. Raphael had thin, boyish hands, but that was deceptive: He had a vampire’s strength, and he was currently bending its power to the purpose of yanking Magnus’s chains out by the roots.


The cell they were in was circular. The floor was made of granite flagstones, overlapping. Stone benches ran around the inside of the walls. There was no discernible door, though there were narrow windows—as narrow as arrow slits. There was no glass in them, and it was possible to see from their depth that the walls were at least a foot thick.


Magnus had woken up in this room, a circle of red-geared Dark Shadowhunters standing around him, affixing his chains to the floor. Before the door had clanged shut behind them, he’d seen Sebastian standing in the corridor outside, grinning in at him like a death’s-head.


Now Luke stood at one of the windows, staring out. None of them had been given a change of clothes, and he still wore the suit trousers and shirt he’d worn to dinner in Alicante. The front of his shirt was splashed with rusty stains. Magnus had to keep reminding himself it was wine. Luke looked haggard, his hair rumpled, one of the lenses of his glasses cracked.


“Do you see anything?” Magnus asked now, as Raphael moved to his other side to see if the left-hand chain would be any easier to remove. Magnus was the only one chained. By the time he’d woken up, Luke and Raphael had already been awake, Raphael lounging against one of the benches while Luke called out for Jocelyn until he was hoarse.


“No,” Luke said shortly. Raphael raised an eyebrow at Magnus. He looked tousled and young, teeth digging into his lower lip as his knuckles whitened around the chain links. They were long enough to allow Magnus to sit up, but not to stand. “Just fog. Gray-yellow fog. Maybe mountains in the distance. It’s hard to tell.”


“Do you think we’re still in Idris?” Raphael asked.


“No,” Magnus said shortly. “We’re not in Idris. I can feel it in my blood.”


Luke looked at him. “Where are we?”


Magnus could feel the burn in his blood, the beginning of fever. It prickled along his nerves, drying his mouth, making his throat ache. “We’re in Edom,” he said. “A demon dimension.”


Raphael dropped the chain and swore in Spanish. “I cannot free you,” he said, clearly frustrated. “Why have Sebastian’s servants chained only you and not either of us?”


“Because Magnus needs his hands to do magic,” said Luke.


Raphael looked at Magnus, surprised. Magnus wiggled his eyebrows. “Didn’t know that, vampire?” he said. “I would have thought you would have figured it out by now; you’ve been alive long enough.”


“Perhaps.” Raphael sat back on his heels. “But I have never had much business with warlocks.”


Magnus gave him a look, a look that said: We both know that isn’t true. Raphael looked away.


“Too bad,” Magnus said. “If Sebastian had done his research, he would have known I can’t do magic in this realm. There’s no need for this.” He rattled his chains like Marley’s ghost.


“So this is where Sebastian’s been hiding all this time,” Luke said. “This is why we couldn’t track him. This is his base of operations.”


“Or,” said Raphael, “this is just some place he has abandoned us to die and rot.”


“He wouldn’t bother,” Luke said. “If he wanted us dead, we’d be dead, the three of us. He’s got some larger plan. He always does. I just don’t know why—” He broke off, looking down at his hands, and Magnus remembered him suddenly much younger, flyaway hair and worried looks and his heart on his sleeve.


“He won’t hurt her,” Magnus said. “Jocelyn, I mean.”


“He might,” Raphael said. “He is very crazy.”


“Why wouldn’t he hurt her?” Luke sounded as if he were holding in a fear that threatened to explode. “Because she’s his mother? It doesn’t work that way. Sebastian doesn’t work that way.”


“Not because she’s his mother,” Magnus said. “Because she’s Clary’s mother. She’s leverage. And he won’t give that up easily.”


Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult
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