As they forged their way farther into the center of the city, the crowd thickened: more Nephilim, more Endarkened, more faerie warriors—though the faeries moved sluggishly, painfully, many of them weakened by contact with the iron, steel, rowan wood, and salt that had been liberally deployed around the city as protection against them. The might of faerie soldiers was legendary, but Emma saw many of them—who might otherwise have been victorious—fall beneath the flashing swords of the Nephilim, their blood running across the white flagstones of Angel Square.
The Endarkened, however, were not weakened. They seemed unconcerned with the troubles of their faerie companions, hacking and slashing their way through the Nephilim jamming Angel Square. Julian had Tavvy zipped into his jacket; the little boy was screaming now, his cries lost among the shrieks of battle. “We have to stop!” Julian shouted. “We’re going to be separated! Helen!”
Helen was pale and ill-looking. The closer they got to the Hall of Accords, now looming above them, the thicker the clusters of faerie protection spells were; even Helen, with her partial heritage, was beginning to feel it. It was Brother Zachariah—just Zachariah now, Emma reminded herself, just a Shadowhunter like they were—in the end who moved to fashion them all into a line, Blackthorns and Carstairs, everyone hand in hand. Emma hung on to Julian’s belt since his other hand was supporting Tavvy. Even Ty was forced to hold hands with Drusilla, though he scowled at her when he did it, bringing fresh tears to her eyes.
They made their way toward the Hall, clinging together, Zachariah in front of them; he was out of throwing blades and had taken out a long-bladed spear. He swept the crowd with it as they went, efficiently and icily hacking a pathway through the Endarkened.
Emma burned to seize Cortana out of its scabbard, to run forward and stab and slash at the enemies who had murdered her parents, who had tortured and Turned Julian’s father, who had taken Mark away from them. But that would have meant letting go of Julian and Livvy, and that she would not do. She owed the Blackthorns too much, Jules especially, Jules who had kept her alive, who had brought her Cortana when she had thought she would die of grief.
Finally they stumbled up the front steps of the Hall behind Helen and Zachariah, and reached the massive double doors of the entryway. There was a guard on either side, one holding an enormous wooden bar. Emma recognized one of them as the woman with the koi tattoo who sometimes spoke out in meetings: Diana Wrayburn. “We’re about to shut the doors,” said the one holding the bar. “You two, you’re going to have to leave them here; only children are allowed inside—”
“Helen,” said Dru in a trembling little voice. The line broke into pieces then, with the Blackthorn children swarming Helen; Julian standing a little aside, his face blank and ashen, his free hand stroking Tavvy’s curls.
“It’s all right,” Helen was saying in a choked voice. “This is the safest place in Alicante. Look, there’s salt and grave dirt all up and down the steps to keep the faeries out.”
“And cold iron under the flagstones,” said Diana. “The instructions of the Spiral Labyrinth were followed to the letter.”
At the mention of the Spiral Labyrinth, Zachariah took in a sharp breath and knelt down, bringing his eyes on a level with Emma’s. “Emma Cordelia Carstairs,” he said. He looked both very young and very old at the same time. There was blood at his throat where his faded rune stood out, but it wasn’t his. He seemed to be searching her face, though for what, she couldn’t tell. “Stay with your parabatai,” he said finally, so quietly that no one else could hear them. “Sometimes it’s braver not to fight. Protect them, and save your vengeance for another day.”
Emma felt her eyes widen. “But I don’t have a parabatai—and how did you—”
One of the guards cried out and fell, a red-fletched arrow in his chest. “Get inside!” shouted Diana, seizing hold of the children and half-throwing them into the Hall. Emma felt herself caught and tossed inside; she spun to get one last look at Zachariah and Helen, but it was too late. The double doors had slammed shut after her, the massive wooden latch falling into place with a sound of echoing finality.
“No,” Clary said, looking from the terrifying throne to Sebastian and back again. Blank your mind, she told herself. Focus on Sebastian, on what’s happening here, on what you can do to stop him. Don’t think about Jace. “You must know I won’t stay here. Maybe you’d rather rule Hell than serve in Heaven, but I don’t want either—I just want to go home and live my life.”
“That isn’t possible. I’ve already sealed the pathway that brought you here. No one can return through it. All that’s left is this, here”—he gestured at the window—“and in a short time that will be sealed too. There will be no returning home, not for you. You belong here, with me.”
“Why?” she whispered. “Why me?”
“Because I love you,” Sebastian said. He looked—uncomfortable. Tense and strained, as if he were reaching for something he couldn’t quite touch. “I don’t want you hurt.”
“You don’t—You have hurt me. You tried to—”
“It doesn’t matter if I hurt you,” he said. “Because you belong to me. I can do what I want with you. But I don’t want other people touching you or owning you or hurting you. I want you to be around, to admire me and to see what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished. That’s love, isn’t it?”
“No,” Clary said, in a soft sad voice. “No, it isn’t.” She took a step toward him, and her boot knocked against the invisible force field of his circle of runes. She could go no farther. “If you love someone, then you want them to love you back.”
Sebastian’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t patronize me. I know what you think love is, Clarissa; I happen to think you’re wrong. You will ascend the throne, and you will reign beside me. You have a dark heart in you, and it is a darkness we share. When I am all there is in your world, when I am all that is left, you will love me back.”
“I don’t understand—”
“I can’t imagine you would,” Sebastian smirked. “You aren’t exactly in possession of all the information. Let me guess, you know nothing of what’s happened in Alicante since you departed?”
A cold feeling began to spread in Clary’s stomach. “We’re in another dimension,” she said. “There’s no way to know.”
“Not exactly,” said Sebastian, and his voice was rich with delight, as if she had fallen into precisely the trap he had wanted. “Look into the window above the eastern throne. Look, and see Alicante now.”
Clary looked. When she had come into the room, she had seen only what seemed like the starred night sky through the eastern window, but now, as she concentrated, the surface of the glass shimmered and rippled. She thought of the story of Snow White suddenly, the magic mirror, its surface shimmering and changing to reveal the outside world. . . .
She was looking at the inside of the Accords Hall. It was full of children. Shadowhunter children sat and stood and clung together. There were the Blackthorns, the children huddled tightly in a group, Julian sitting with the baby on his lap, his free arm stretched out as if he could encompass the rest of his siblings, could pull them all in and protect them. Emma sat close by him, her expression stony, her golden sword gleaming behind her shoulder—
The scene resolved into Angel Square. All around the Hall of Accords was a boiling mass of Nephilim, and ranged against them were the Endarkened in their scarlet gear, bristling with weapons—and not just the Endarkened but figures that Clary recognized with a sinking heart as faerie warriors. A tall faerie with hair of mixed blue and green strands was battling Aline Penhallow, who stood in front of her mother, her sword drawn as if ready to fight to the death. Across the square Helen was trying to push her way through the crowd toward Aline, but the crush was too great. The fighting penned her back, but so did the bodies—bodies of Nephilim warriors, fallen and dying, so many more in black gear than red. They were losing the battle, losing it—
Clary whirled on Sebastian as the scene began to fade. “What’s happening?”
“It’s over,” he said. “I requested that the Clave turn you over to me; they didn’t. Admittedly because you’d run off, but nevertheless, they were no further use to me. My forces have invaded the city. The Nephilim children are hiding in the Accords Hall, but when all the others are dead, the Hall will be taken. Alicante will be mine. All of Idris will be mine. The Shadowhunters have lost the war—not that there was much of one. I really thought they’d put up more of a fight.”
“That’s hardly all the Shadowhunters that exist,” Clary said. “That was just who was in Alicante. There are still Nephilim scattered all over the world—”
“All the Shadowhunters you see there will drink from the Infernal Cup soon enough. Then they will be my servants, and I will send them out to find their brethren in the world, and those who remain will be Turned or killed. I will slay the Iron Sisters and the Silent Brothers in their citadels of stone and silence. Inside of a month the race of Jonathan Shadowhunter will be wiped from the world. And then . . .” He smiled a terrible smile, and gestured toward the western window, which looked out on the dead and blasted world of Edom. “You’ve seen what happens to a world without protectors,” he gloated. “Your world will die. Death on death, and blood in the streets.”
Clary thought of Magnus. I saw a city all of blood, with towers made of bone, and blood ran in the streets like water.
“You can’t imagine,” she said in a dead voice, “that if you do this, if what you’re telling me is going to happen does actually happen, that there is any chance I would sit on a throne beside you. I’d rather be tortured to death.”
“Oh, I don’t think it,” he said breezily. “That’s why I’ve waited, you see. To give you a choice. All those Fair Folk who are my allies, all the Endarkened you see there, they wait on my orders. If I give the signal, they will stand down. Your world will be safe. You’ll never be able to return there, of course—I’ll seal the borders between this world and that, and never again will anyone, demon or human, travel between them. But it will be safe.”
“A choice,” Clary said. “You said you were giving me a choice?”
“Of course,” he said. “Rule beside me, and I will spare your world. Refuse, and I will give the order to annihilate it. Choose me, and you can save millions, billions of lives, my sister. You could save a whole world by damning a single soul. Your own. So tell me, what is your decision?”
“Magnus,” Alec said desperately, reaching to feel the adamas chains, sunk deep into the floor, that connected to the manacles on the warlock’s wrists. “Are you all right? Are you hurt?”
Isabelle and Simon were checking Luke for injuries. Isabelle kept glancing back at Alec, her face anxious; Alec deliberately didn’t meet her gaze, not wanting her to see the fear in his eyes. He touched the back of his hand to Magnus’s face.
Magnus looked sunken and sallow, his lips dry, ashy shadows beneath his eyes.
My Alec, Magnus had said, you’ve been so sad. I didn’t know. And then he had sunk back against the floor, as if the effort of speaking exhausted him.
“Hold still,” Alec said now, and drew a seraph blade from his belt. He opened his mouth to name it, and felt a sudden touch at his wrist. Magnus had wrapped his slender fingers around Alec’s wrist.
“Call it Raphael,” Magnus said, and when Alec looked at him in puzzlement, Magnus glanced toward the blade in Alec’s hand. His eyes were half-closed, and Alec remembered what Sebastian had said in the entryway, to Simon: I killed the one who made you. Magnus’s mouth quirked at the corner. “It is an angel’s name,” he said.
Alec nodded. “Raphael,” he said softly, and when the blade blazed up, he brought it down hard on the adamas chain, which splintered under the touch of the knife. The chains fell away, and Alec, dropping the blade to the floor, reached forward to take Magnus by the shoulders and help him up.
Magnus reached for Alec, but instead of rising to his feet, he pulled Alec against him, his hand sliding up Alec’s back to knot in his hair. Magnus pulled Alec down and against him, and kissed him, hard and awkward and determined, and Alec froze for a moment and then abandoned himself to it, to kissing Magnus, something he’d thought he’d never get to do again. Alec ran his hands up Magnus’s shoulders to the sides of his neck and cupped his hands there, holding Magnus in place while he kissed him thoroughly breathless.
Finally Magnus drew back; his eyes were shining. He let his head fall onto Alec’s shoulder, arms encircling him, keeping them tightly together. “Alec . . . ,” he began softly.