With a strange detachment Magnus watched Raphael approach him. Magnus’s heart was thudding in his chest, he was aware of that much, but he did not feel afraid. He had been close to death many times; so many that the idea no longer frightened him. Sometimes he thought some part of him longed for it, for that unknown country, the one place he had never been, that one experience as yet unlived.
The tip of the knife touched his neck. Raphael’s hand was shaking; Magnus felt the sting as the blade nicked the hollow of his throat.
“That’s right,” said Sebastian with a feral grin. “Cut his throat. Let the blood run out over the floor. He has lived too many years.”
Magnus thought of Alec then, of his blue eyes and steady smile. He thought of walking away from Alec in the tunnels under New York. He thought of why he’d done it. Yes, Alec’s willingness to see Camille had angered him, but it was more than that.
He remembered Tessa weeping in his arms in Paris, and thinking that he had never known the loss she felt, because he had never loved like she had, and that he was afraid that someday he would, and like Tessa he would lose his mortal love. And that it was better to be the one who died than the one who lived on.
He had dismissed that, later, as a morbid fantasy, and had not remembered it again until Alec. It had torn at him to walk away from Alec. But for an immortal to love a mortal, that had been the destruction of gods, and if gods had been destroyed by it, Magnus could hardly hope for better. He looked up at Raphael through his eyelashes. “You remember,” he said in a low voice, so low he doubted Sebastian could hear him. “You know what you owe me.”
“You saved my life,” Raphael said, but his voice was numb. “A life I never wanted.”
“Show me you’re serious, Santiago,” said Sebastian. “Kill the warlock.”
Raphael’s hand tightened on the hilt of the knife. His knuckles were white. He spoke to Magnus. “I have no soul,” he said. “But I made you a promise on my mother’s doorstep, and she was sacred to me.”
“Santiago—” Sebastian began.
“I was a child then. I am not now.” The knife fell to the floor. Raphael turned and looked at Sebastian, his wide dark eyes very clear. “I cannot,” he said. “I will not. I owe him a debt from many years ago.”
Sebastian was very still. “You disappoint me, Raphael,” he said, and sheathed the Morgenstern sword. He stepped forward and picked up the knife at Raphael’s feet, turning it over in his hand. A bit of light sparked along the blade, a singing teardrop of fire. “You disappoint me very much,” he said, and then, too swiftly for the eye to follow, he drove the blade into Raphael’s heart.
It was freezing inside the hospital morgue. Maia wasn’t shivering, but she could feel it, like the points of needles against her skin.
Catarina was standing against the bank of steel compartments that held corpses, which ran along one wall. The yellowish fluorescent lights made her look washed-out, a pale blue blur in green scrubs. She was muttering under her breath in a strange language that made chills run up Maia’s spine.
“Where is it?” Bat asked. He was holding a wicked-looking hunting knife in one hand and a large kennel-size cage in the other. He dropped the cage with a clang, his gaze sweeping the room.
Two bare steel tables stood in the center of the morgue. As Maia stared, one of them began inching forward. Its wheels dragged along the tiled floor.
Catarina pointed. “There,” she said. Her gaze was on the cage; she made a gesture with her fingers and the cage seemed to vibrate and spark. “Under the table.”
“You don’t say,” Lily drawled, clicking forward in her heels. She bent down to peer under the table, then leaped back with a shriek. She sailed through the air and landed on one of the countertops, where she perched like a bat, her black hair tumbling down out of its ponytail. “It’s hideous,” she said.
“It’s a demon,” said Catarina. The table had stopped moving. “Probably a Dantalion or some other ghoul type. They feed on the dead.”
“Oh, for goodness’ sake,” said Maia, taking a step forward; before she reached the table, Bat kicked it with a booted foot. It went over with a clang, revealing the creature underneath.
Lily had been right: it was hideous. It was about the size of a large dog, but it resembled a ball of grayish, pulsing intestines, studded with malformed kidneys and nodes of pus and blood. A single yellow, weeping eye glared out from among the jumble of organs.
“Ew,” said Bat.
“I told you,” said Lily, just as a long rope of intestine shot out from the demon and wrapped around Bat’s ankle, jerking hard. He fell to the floor with a wince-inducing crash.
“Bat!” Maia cried, but before she needed to move, he whipped around and slashed with his knife through the pulsing matter that held him. He scrambled back as demon ichor sprayed across the floor.
“So gross,” Lily said. She was seated on the counter now, holding up an oblong metal object—her phone—as if it would ward the demon off.
Bat scrambled to his feet as the demon skittered toward Maia. She kicked out at it, and it rolled back with an angry squishing noise. Bat looked down at his knife. The metal was melting, dissolved by the ichor. He dropped it with a noise of disgust.
“Weapons,” he said, casting around. “I need a weapon—”
Maia seized a scalpel off a nearby table and flung it. It stuck into the creature with a slimy noise. The demon squealed. A moment later the scalpel shot back out of it as if it had been ejected from a particularly powerful toaster. It skidded along the floor, melting and sizzling.
“Ordinary weapons don’t work on them!” Catarina stepped forward, raising her right hand. It was surrounded by blue flame. “Only runed blades—”
“Then let’s get some of those!” Bat gasped, backing away as the pulsing creature scooted toward him.
“Only Shadowhunters can use them!” Catarina cried, and a bolt of blue fire shot from her hand. It struck the creature squarely, sending it rolling over and over. Bat seized hold of the cage and banged it down in front of the demon, yanking up the hatch just as the demon rolled inside.
Maia slammed the hatch down and threw the bolt, locking the demon inside. They all backed away, staring in horror as it hissed and threw itself around the confines of its warlock-strengthened prison. All except Lily, who was still pointing her phone at it.
“Are you filming this?” Maia demanded.
“Maybe,” Lily said.
Catarina drew her sleeve across her brow. “Thanks for the help,” she said. “Even warlock magic can’t kill Dantalions; they’re tough.”
“Why are you filming this?” Maia said to Lily.
The vampire girl shrugged. “When the cat is away, the mice will play. . . . Always good to remind the mice that in this case, when the cat is away, the mice will all be eaten by demons. I’m going to send this video file to every one of our Downworld contacts around the world. Just a reminder that there are demons we need Shadowhunters to destroy. That’s why they exist.”
“They won’t exist for long,” hissed the Dantalion demon. Bat yelled and jumped back another foot. Maia didn’t blame him. The thing’s mouth had opened. It looked like a slick black tunnel lined with teeth. “Tomorrow night is the attack. Tomorrow night is the war.”
“What war?” Catarina demanded. “Tell us, creature, or when I get you home, I will set to torturing you in every way I can devise. . . .”
“Sebastian Morgenstern,” said the demon. “Tomorrow night he attacks Alicante. Tomorrow night the Shadowhunters cease to be.”