City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments 6) - Page 11

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The morning sun sparkled off the new gates in front of the Gard. The old ones, Clary guessed, had been destroyed in the battle that had wrecked much of the Gard and scorched the trees along the hillside. Past the gates she could see Alicante below, shimmering water in the canals, the demon towers reaching up to where sunlight made them glitter like mica sparkling in stone.

The Gard itself had been restored. Fire had not destroyed the stone walls or towers. A wall still ran around it, and the new gates were made of the hard, clear adamas that formed the demon towers. They seemed to have been hand-wrought, their lines curving in to circle around the symbol of the Council—four Cs in a square, standing for Council, Covenant, Clave, and Consul. The curvature of each C held a symbol of one of the branches of Downworlders. A crescent moon for the wolves, a spell book for the warlocks, an elf arrow for the Fair Folk, and for the vampires, a star.

A star. She hadn’t been able to think of anything that symbolized vampires, herself. Blood? Fangs? But there was something simple and elegant about the star. It was bright in the darkness, a darkness that would never be illuminated, and it was lonely the way only things that could never die were lonely.

Clary missed Simon with a sharp pain. She was exhausted after a night of little sleep, and her emotional resources were low. It didn’t help that she felt as if she were the center of a hundred hostile stares. There were dozens of Shadowhunters milling around the gates, most of them unfamiliar to her. Many were shooting Jocelyn and Luke covert glances; a few were coming up to greet them, while others stood back looking curious. Jocelyn seemed to be keeping her calm with a certain amount of effort.

More Shadowhunters were coming up the path along the Gard Hill. With relief Clary recognized the Lightwoods—Maryse in front, with Robert beside her; Isabelle, Alec, and Jace following. They were wearing white mourning clothes. Maryse looked especially somber. Clary couldn’t help but notice that she and Robert were walking side by side but apart, not even their hands touching.

Jace broke away from the group and moved over toward her. Gazes followed him as he went, though he seemed not to notice. He was famous in a strange sort of way among the Nephilim—Valentine’s son, who had not really been his son. Kidnapped by Sebastian, rescued by the blade of Heaven. Clary knew the story well, as did everyone else close to Jace, but the rumors had grown like coral, adding layers and colors of story.

“. . . angel blood . . .”

“. . . special powers . . .”

“. . . heard that Valentine taught him tricks . . .”

“. . . fire in his blood . . .”

“. . . not right for Nephilim . . .”

She could hear the whispers, even as Jace moved among them.

It was a bright winter day, cold but sunny, and the light picked the gold and silver threads out of his hair and made her squint as he came up to her at the gate. “Mourning clothes?” he said, touching the sleeve of her jacket.

“You’re wearing them,” she pointed out.

“I didn’t think you had any.”

“Amatis’s,” she said. “Listen—I have to tell you something.”

He let her draw him aside. Clary described the conversation she had overheard between her mother and Luke about the box. “It’s definitely the box I remember. It’s the one my mother had when I was growing up, and the one that was in Sebastian’s apartment when I was there.”

Jace raked a hand through the light strands of his hair. “I thought there was something,” he said. “Maryse got a message from your mother this morning.” His gaze was inward. “Sebastian Turned Luke’s sister,” he added. “He did it on purpose, to hurt Luke and hurt your mother through Luke. He hates her. He must have come to Alicante to get Amatis, that night we fought at the Burren. He as much as told me he was going to do it, back when we were bound. He said he was going to kidnap a Shadowhunter from Alicante, just not which one.”

Clary nodded. It was always strange to hear Jace talk about the self he had been, the Jace who had been Sebastian’s friend—more than his friend, his ally. The Jace who had worn her Jace’s skin and face but had been someone else entirely.

“He must have brought the box with him then, left it in her house,” Jace added. “He would have known that your family would find it one day. He would have thought of it as a message, or a signature.”

“Is that what the Clave thinks?” Clary asked.

“It’s what I think,” Jace said, focusing on her. “And you know we both can read Sebastian better than they can, or ever will. They don’t understand him at all.”

“Aren’t they lucky.” The sound of a bell echoed through the air, and the gates slid open. Clary and Jace joined the Lightwoods, Luke, and Jocelyn in the tide of Shadowhunters pouring through. They passed through the gardens outside the fortress, up a set of stairs, then through another set of doors into a long corridor that ended at the Council chamber.

Jia Penhallow, in Consul robes, stood at the entrance to the chamber as Shadowhunter after Shadowhunter came through. It was built like an amphitheater: a half circle of tiered benches facing a rectangular raised dais in the front of the room. There were two lecterns on the dais, one for the Consul and one for the Inquisitor, and behind the lecterns two windows, massive rectangles, looked out over Alicante.

Clary moved to sit with the Lightwoods and her mother, while Robert Lightwood broke away from them and headed down the center aisle to take up the place of the Inquisitor. On the dais, behind the lecterns, were four tall chairs, the back of each inscribed with a symbol: spell book, moon, arrow, star. The seats for the Downworlders of the Council. Luke eyed his but seated himself next to Jocelyn. This was not a full Council meeting, with Downworlder attendance. Luke wasn’t here in an official capacity. In front of the seats a table had been erected, draped with blue velvet. Atop the velvet lay something long and sharp, something that glimmered in the light from the windows. The Mortal Sword.

Clary glanced around. The flood of Shadowhunters had slowed to a trickle; the room was nearly filled to its echoing roof. There had once been more entrances than through the Gard. Westminster Abbey had had one, she knew, as had the Sagrada Família and Saint Basil the Blessed, but they had been sealed when Portals were invented. She couldn’t help but wonder if some kind of magic kept the Council room from overflowing. It was as full as she had ever seen it, but there were still empty seats when Jia Penhallow stepped up onto the stage and clapped her hands sharply.

“Will the Council please come to attention,” she said.

Silence fell quickly; many of the Shadowhunters were straining forward. Rumors had been flying around like panicked birds, and there was an electricity in the room, the crackling current of people desperate for information.

“Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Oslo, Berlin, Moscow, Los Angeles,” said Jia. “Attacked in quick succession, before the attacks could be reported. Before warnings could be given. Every Conclave in these cities has had its Shadowhunters captured and Turned. A few—pitifully few, the very old or very young—were simply killed, their bodies left for us to burn, to add to the voices of lost Shadowhunters in the Silent City.”

A voice spoke from one of the front rows. A woman with black hair, the tattooed silver design of a koi fish standing out on the dark skin of her cheek. Clary rarely saw Shadowhunters with tattoos that weren’t Marks, but it wasn’t unheard of. “You say ‘Turned,’?” she said. “But do you not mean ‘slain’?”

Jia’s mouth tightened. “I do not mean ‘slain,’?” she said. “I mean ‘Turned.’ We speak of the Endarkened, the ones Jonathan Morgenstern—or as he prefers to be known, Sebastian—Turned from their purpose as Nephilim using the Infernal Cup. Every Institute was issued reports of what happened at the Burren. The existence of the Endarkened is something we have known of now for some time, even if there were perhaps those who did not want to believe it.”

A murmur went around the room. Clary barely heard it. She was aware that Jace’s hand was around hers, but she was hearing the wind on the Burren, and seeing Shadowhunters rising from the Infernal Cup to face Sebastian, the Marks of the Gray Book already fading from their skin. . . .

“Shadowhunters don’t fight Shadowhunters,” said an older man in one of the front rows. Jace murmured into her ear that he was the head of the Reykjavík Institute. “It is blasphemy.”

“It is blasphemy,” Jia agreed. “Blasphemy is Sebastian Morgenstern’s creed. His father wanted to cleanse the world of Downworlders. Sebastian wants something very different. He wants Nephilim reduced to ashes, and he wants to use Nephilim to do it.”

“Surely if he was able to turn Nephilim into—into monsters, we ought to be able to find a way to turn them back,” said Nasreen Choudhury, the head of the Mumbai Institute, regal in her rune-decorated white sari. “Surely we should not give up so easily on our own.”

“The body of one of the Endarkened was found at the Berlin site,” said Robert. “He was injured, probably left for dead. The Silent Brothers are examining him right now to see if they can glean any information that might lead to a cure.”

“Which Endarkened?” demanded the woman with the koi tattoo. “He had a name before he was Turned. A Shadowhunter name.”

“Amalric Kriegsmesser,” said Robert after a moment’s hesitation. “His family has already been told.”

The warlocks of the Spiral Labyrinth are also working on a cure. The whispered omnidirectional voice of a Silent Brother echoed in the room. Clary recognized Brother Zachariah standing with his hands folded near the dais. Beside him was Helen Blackthorn, dressed in white mourning clothes, looking anxious.

“They’re warlocks,” said someone else in a dismissive tone. “Surely they won’t do any better than our own Silent Brothers.”

“Can’t Kriegsmesser be interrogated?” interrupted a tall woman with white hair. “Perhaps he knows Sebastian’s next move, or even a manner of curing his condition—”

Amalric Kriegsmesser is barely conscious, and besides, he is a servant of the Infernal Cup, said Brother Zachariah. The Infernal Cup controls him completely. He has no will of his own and therefore no will to break.

The woman with the koi tattoo spoke out again: “Is it true that Sebastian Morgenstern is invulnerable now? That he can’t be killed?”

There was a murmur in the room. Jia spoke, raising her voice, “As I said, there were no Nephilim survivors from the first of the attacks. But the last attack was on the Institute in Los Angeles, and six survived. Six children.” She turned. “Helen Blackthorn, if you please, bring the witnesses out.”

Clary saw Helen nod, and disappear through a side door. A moment later she returned; she was walking slowly now, and carefully, her hand on the back of a thin boy with a mop of wavy brown hair. He couldn’t have been older than twelve. Clary recognized him immediately. She had seen him in the nave of the Institute the first time she had met Helen, his wrist clamped in his older sister’s grip, his hands covered in wax where he had been playing with the tapers that decorated the interior of the cathedral. He had had an impish grin and the same blue-green eyes as his sister.

Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult