City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments 6) - Page 66

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BURNT OFFERINGS


Clary dreamed of fire, a pillar of fire sweeping through a desert landscape, scorching everything in front of it: trees, brush, shrieking people. Their bodies turned black as they crumbled away before the force of the flames, and over them all hung a rune, hovering like an angel, a shape like two wings joined by a single bar—


A scream cut through the smoke and shadow, snapping Clary out of her nightmares. Her eyes flew open and she saw fire in front of her, bright and hot, and scrambled up, reaching for Heosphoros.


With the blade in her hand, her heartbeat ebbed slowly. This fire wasn’t raging or out of control. It was contained, the smoke floating up toward the enormous roof of the cave. It illuminated the space around it. She could see Simon and Isabelle in the glow, Izzy lifting herself out of Simon’s lap and blinking around, confused. “What—”


Clary was already on her feet. “Someone screamed,” she said. “You two stay here—I’ll go see what happened.”


“No—no.” Isabelle scrambled to her feet just as Alec burst into the chamber, panting hard.


“Jace,” he said. “Something’s happened—Clary, get your stele and come on.” He turned around and darted back into the tunnel. Clary jammed Heosophoros through her belt and raced after him. She rocketed through the corridor, boots skimming over the uneven rocks, and exploded out into the night, her stele now in her hand.


The night was burning. The gray plateau of rocks tilted down toward the desert, and where the rocks met the sand there was fire—fire blasting up into the air, turning the sky gold, scorching the ground. She stared at Alec.


“Where’s Jace?” she shouted over the crackle of the flames.


He looked away from her, at the heart of the fire. “There,” he said. “Inside it. I saw it pour out of him and swallow him up.”


Clary felt her heart seize up; she staggered back, away from Alec as if he’d hit her, and then he was reaching for her, saying, “Clary. He’s not dead. If he were, I’d know it. I’d know—”


Isabelle and Simon burst out from the cave entrance behind them; Clary saw them both react to the heavenly fire, Isabelle with widened eyes, and Simon with a recoil of horror—fire and vampires didn’t mix, even if he was a Daylighter. Isabelle caught at his arm as if to protect him; Clary could hear her shouting, her words lost against the roar of flames. Clary’s arm burned and stung. She looked down to realize that she had begun drawing on her skin, the reflex taking over from her conscious mind. She watched as a pyr rune, for fireproofing, appeared on her wrist, bold and black against her skin. It was a strong rune: She could feel the force of it, radiating outward.


She started down the slope, turning when she sensed Alec behind her. “Stay back,” she shouted at him, and held up her wrist, showing him the rune. “I don’t know if it will work,” she called. “Stay here; protect Simon and Izzy—the heavenly fire should keep the demons back, but just in case.” And then she turned away, darting lightly among the rocks, closing the distance between herself and the blaze, as Alec stood on the path behind her, hands fisted at his sides.


Up close the fire was a wall of gold, moving and shifting, colors flickering in its heart: burning red, tongues of orange and green. Clary could see nothing but flames; the heat that poured off the blaze made her skin prickle and her eyes water. She took a breath that scorched her throat, and stepped into the fire.


It wrapped her like an embrace. The world turned red, gold, orange, and swam before her eyes. Her hair lifted and blew in the hot wind, and she couldn’t tell what was its fiery strands and what was fire itself. She stepped forward carefully, staggering as if she were walking against a massive headwind—she could feel the Fireproof rune throbbing on her arm with each step—as the flames swirled up, around, and over her.


She took another scorching breath and pushed forward, her shoulders bent as if she were lifting a heavy weight. There was nothing around her but fire. She would die in the fire, she thought, burning up like a feather, not even a footprint left on the dirt of this alien world to mark that she had ever been there.


Jace, she thought, and took a final step. The flames parted around her like a curtain drawing back, and she gasped, falling forward, her knees hitting the earth hard. The Fireproof rune on her arm was fading, turning white, draining her energy along with its power. She lifted her head and stared.


The fire rose all around her in a circle, flames reaching for the scorched demon sky. In the center of the circle of flame knelt Jace; he was untouched by fire himself, on his knees, his golden head back, his eyes half-closed. His hands were flat on the ground, and from his palms poured a river of what looked like molten gold. It had threaded through the earth like tiny streams of lava, illuminating the ground. No, she thought, it was doing more than illuminating it. It was crystallizing the earth, turning it to a hard, golden material that shone like—


Like adamas. She crawled forward toward Jace, the ground under her turning from bumpy earth to a slippery glassine substance, like adamas, but the color of gold instead of white. Jace didn’t move: Like the Angel Raziel rising from Lake Lyn streaming water, he remained still as fire poured from him, and all around the ground hardened and turned to gold.


Adamas. The power of it shuddered up and through Clary, making her bones shiver. Images bloomed in her mind: runes, looming up and then vanishing like fireworks, and she mourned their loss, so many runes she would never know the meaning of, the use of, but then she was inches from Jace, and the first rune she had ever imagined, the rune she had spent the last days dreaming of, rose up in her mind. Wings, connected by a single bar—no, not wings—the hilt of a sword—it had always been the hilt of a sword—


“Jace!” she cried, and his eyes flew open. They were more golden than even the fire. He looked at her in utter disbelief, and she realized immediately what he had thought he was doing—kneeling and waiting to die, waiting to be consumed by the fire like a medieval saint.


She wanted to slap him.


“Clary, how—”


She reached to catch at his wrist, but he was faster than she was, and dodged her grip. “No! Don’t touch me. It isn’t safe—”


“Jace, stop.” She held up her arm, with the pyr rune on it, shimmering silver in the unearthly glow. “I walked through the fire to get to you,” she said over the cry of the flames. “We’re here. We’re both here now, understand?”


His eyes were manic, desperate. “Clary, get out—”


“No!” She clutched at his shoulders, and this time he didn’t move back. She fisted her hands in his gear. “I know how to fix this!” she cried, and leaned forward to press her lips to his.


His mouth was hot and dry, his skin burning as she ran her hands up his neck to cup the sides of his face. She tasted fire and char and blood on his mouth and wondered if he tasted the same thing on her. “Trust me,” she whispered against his lips, and though the words were swallowed up by the chaos around them, she felt him relax minutely and nod, leaning into her, letting the fire pass between them as they breathed each other’s breath, tasting the sparks on each other’s lips.


“Trust me,” she whispered again, and reached for her blade.


Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult
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