City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments 6) - Page 3

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A laugh went around the room; Sebastian smiled, and there was something horrible and beautiful about him, the way there was something horrible and beautiful about poisonous snakes and great white sharks. He was flanked by two companions, Emma realized: a woman with graying brown hair, an axe in her hands, and a tall figure wrapped entirely in a black cloak. No part of him was visible except the dark boots that showed beneath the hem of his robe. Only his height and breadth made her think he was a man at all.

“Is that the last of the Shadowhunters here?” Sebastian asked.

“There is the boy, Mark Blackthorn,” said the woman standing beside him, raising a finger and pointing at Mark. “He ought to be old enough.”

Sebastian looked down at Katerina, who had stopped spasming and lay still, her dark hair tangled across her face. “Get up, sister Katerina,” he said. “Go and bring Mark Blackthorn to me.”

Emma watched, rooted to the spot, as Katerina rose slowly to her feet. Katerina had been the tutor at the Institute for as long as Emma could remember; she had been their teacher when Tavvy had been born, when Jules’s mother had died, when Emma had first started physical training. She had taught them languages and bound up cuts and soothed scrapes and given them their first weapons; she had been like family, and now she stepped, blank-eyed, across the mess on the floor and reached out to seize Mark.

Dru gave a gasp, snapping Emma back to consciousness. Emma whirled, and placed Tavvy in Dru’s arms; Dru staggered a little and then recovered, clutching her baby brother tight. “Run,” Emma said. “Run to the office. Tell Julian I’ll be right there.”

Something of the urgency in Emma’s voice communicated itself; Drusilla didn’t argue, just clutched Tavvy more tightly and fled, her bare little feet soundless on the corridor floors. Emma spun back to stare down at the unfolding horror. Katerina was behind Mark, pushing him ahead, a dagger pressed to the space between his shoulder blades. He staggered and nearly stumbled in front of Sebastian; Mark was closer to the steps now, and Emma could see that he had been fighting. There were defensive wounds on his wrists and hands, cuts on his face, and there had doubtless been no time for healing runes. There was blood all over his right cheek; Sebastian looked at him, lip curling in annoyance.

“This one is not all Nephilim,” he said. “Part faerie, am I correct? Why was I not informed?”

There was a murmur. The brown-haired woman said, “Does it mean the Cup will not work on him, Lord Sebastian?”

“It means I don’t want him,” said Sebastian.

“We could take him to the valley of salt,” said the brown-haired woman. “Or to the high places of Edom, and sacrifice him there for the pleasure of Asmodeus and Lilith.”

“No,” Sebastian said slowly. “No, it would not be wise, I think, to do that to one with the blood of the Fair Folk.”

Mark spat at him.

Sebastian looked startled. He turned to Julian’s father. “Come and restrain him,” he said. “Wound him if you desire. I shall have only so much patience with your half-breed son.”

Mr. Blackthorn stepped forward, holding a broadsword. The blade was already stained with blood. Mark’s eyes widened with terror. The sword rose up—

The throwing knife left Emma’s hand. It flew through the air, and buried itself in Sebastian Morgenstern’s chest.

Sebastian staggered back, and Mr. Blackthorn’s sword hand fell to his side. The others were crying out; Mark leaped to his feet as Sebastian looked down at the blade in his chest, its handle protruding from his heart. He frowned.

“Ouch,” he said, and pulled the knife free. The blade was slick with blood, but Sebastian himself looked unbothered by the injury. He cast the weapon aside, staring upward. Emma felt those dark, empty eyes on her, like the touch of cold fingers. She felt him take the measure of her, sum her up and know her, and dismiss her.

“It’s a shame you won’t live,” he said to her. “Live to tell the Clave that Lilith has strengthened me beyond all measure. Perhaps Glorious could end my life. A pity for the Nephilim that they have no more favors they can ask of Heaven, and none of the puny instruments of war they forge in their Adamant Citadel can harm me now.” He turned to the others. “Kill the girl,” he demanded, flicking at his now bloody jacket with distaste.

Emma saw Mark lunge for the stairs, trying to get to her first, but the dark figure at Sebastian’s side had already seized Mark and was drawing him backward with black-gloved hands; those arms went around Mark, held him, almost as if protecting him. Mark was struggling, and then he was lost to Emma’s view as the Endarkened surged up the steps.

Emma turned and ran. She had learned to run on the beaches of California, where the sand shifted under her feet with every step, so on solid ground she was as fast as the wind. She hurtled down the hall, her hair flying out behind her, leaped and jumped down a short set of steps, spun to the right, and burst into the office. She slammed the door behind her and threw the bolt before turning to stare.

The office was a sizeable room, the walls lined with reference books. There was another library on the top floor as well, but this was where Mr. Blackthorn had run the Institute. There was his mahogany desk, and on it two telephones: one white and one black. The receiver was off the hook on the black phone, and Julian was holding the handset, shouting down the line: “You have to keep the Portal open! We’re not all safe yet! Please—”

The door behind Emma boomed and echoed as the Endarkened threw themselves against it; Julian looked up with alarm, and the receiver fell from his fingers as he saw Emma. She stared back at him, and past him, to where the whole eastern wall was glowing. In the center was a Portal, a rectangular-shaped hole in the wall through which Emma could see whirling silver shapes, a chaos of clouds and wind.

She staggered toward Julian, and he caught her by the shoulders. His fingers gripped her skin tightly, as if he couldn’t believe she was there, or real. “Emma,” he breathed, and then his voice picked up speed. “Em, where’s Mark? Where’s my father?”

She shook her head. “They can’t—I couldn’t—” She swallowed. “It’s Sebastian Morgenstern,” she said, and winced as the door shuddered again under another assault. “We have to go back for them—” she said, turning, but Julian’s hand was already around her wrist.

“The Portal!” he shouted over the sound of the wind and the battering at the door. “It goes to Idris! The Clave opened it! Emma—it’s going to stay open for only another few seconds!”

“But Mark!” she said, though she had no idea what they could do, how they could fight their way past the Endarkened crowding the hallway, how they could defeat Sebastian Morgenstern, who was more powerful than any ordinary Shadowhunter. “We have to—”

“Emma!” Julian shouted, and then the door burst open and the Endarkened poured into the room. She heard the brown-haired woman shrieking after her, something about how the Nephilim would burn, they would all burn in the fires of Edom, they would burn and die and be destroyed—

Julian bolted toward the Portal, dragging Emma by one hand; after one terrified look behind her, she let him pull her along. She ducked as an arrow sailed past them and smashed through a window on her right. Julian seized her frantically, wrapping his arms around her; she felt his fingers knot into the back of her shirt as they fell forward into the Portal and were swallowed up by the tempest.

Part One

Bring Forth a Fire

Therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.

—Ezekiel 28:14



“Picture something calming. The beach in Los Angeles—white sand, crashing blue water, you’re strolling along the tide line . . .”

Jace cracked an eye open. “This sounds very romantic.”

The boy sitting across from him sighed and ran his hands through his shaggy dark hair. Though it was a cold December day, werewolves didn’t feel weather as acutely as humans, and Jordan had his jacket off and his shirtsleeves rolled up. They were seated opposite each other on a patch of browning grass in a clearing in Central Park, both cross-legged, their hands on their knees, palms up.

An outcropping of rock rose from the ground near them. It was broken up into larger and smaller boulders, and atop one of the larger boulders perched Alec and Isabelle Lightwood. As Jace looked up, Isabelle caught his eye and gave him an encouraging wave. Alec, noting her gesture, smacked her shoulder. Jace could see him lecturing Izzy, probably about not breaking Jace’s concentration. He smiled to himself—neither of them really had a reason to be here, but they had come anyway, “for moral support.” Though, Jace suspected it had more to do with the fact that Alec hated to be at loose ends these days, Isabelle hated for her brother to be on his own, and both of them were avoiding their parents and the Institute.

Jordan snapped his fingers under Jace’s nose. “Are you paying any attention?”

Jace frowned. “I was, until we wandered into the territory of bad personal ads.”

“Well, what kind of thing does make you feel calm and peaceful?”

Jace took his hands off his knees—the lotus position was giving him wrist cramps—and leaned back on his arms. Chilly wind rattled the few dead leaves that still clung to the branches of the trees. Against the pale winter sky the leaves had a spare elegance, like pen and ink sketches. “Killing demons,” he said. “A good clean kill is very relaxing. The messy ones are more annoying, because you have to clean up afterward—”

“No.” Jordan held his hands up. Below the sleeves of his shirt, the tattoos that wrapped his arms were visible. Shaantih, shaantih, shaantih. Jace knew it meant “the peace that passes understanding” and that you were supposed to say the word three times every time you uttered the mantra, to calm your mind. But nothing seemed to calm his, these days. The fire in his veins made his mind race too, thoughts coming too quickly, one after another, like exploding fireworks. Dreams as vivid and saturated with color as oil paintings. He’d tried training it out of himself, hours and hours spent in the practice room, blood and bruises and sweat and once, even, broken fingers. But he hadn’t managed to do much more than irritate Alec with requests for healing runes and, on one memorable occasion, accidentally set fire to one of the crossbeams.

It was Simon who had pointed out that his roommate meditated every day, and who’d said that learning the habit was what had calmed the uncontrollable fits of rage that were often part of the transformation into a werewolf. From there it had been a short jump to Clary suggesting that Jace “might as well try it,” and here they were, at his second session. The first session had ended with Jace burning a mark into Simon and Jordan’s hardwood floor, so Jordan had suggested they take it outside for the second round to prevent further property damage.

“No killing,” Jordan said. “We’re trying to make you feel peaceful. Blood, killing, war, those are all non-peaceful things. Isn’t there anything else you like?”

“Weapons,” said Jace. “I like weapons.”

“I’m starting to think we have a problematic issue of personal philosophy here.”

Jace leaned forward, his palms flat on the grass. “I’m a warrior,” he said. “I was brought up as a warrior. I didn’t have toys, I had weapons. I slept with a wooden sword until I was five. My first books were medieval demonologies with illuminated pages. The first songs I learned were chants to banish demons. I know what brings me peace, and it isn’t sandy beaches or chirping birds in rain forests. I want a weapon in my hand and a strategy to win.”

Jordan looked at him levelly. “So you’re saying that what brings you peace is war.”

Jace threw his hands up and stood, brushing grass off his jeans. “Now you get it.” He heard the crackle of dry grass and turned, in time to see Clary duck through a gap between two trees and emerge into the clearing, Simon only a few steps behind her. Clary had her hands in her back pockets and she was laughing.

Jace watched them for a moment—there was something about looking at people who didn’t know they were being watched. He remembered the second time he had ever seen Clary, across the main room of Java Jones. She’d been laughing and talking with Simon the way she was doing now. He remembered the unfamiliar twist of jealousy in his chest, pressing out his breath, the feeling of satisfaction when she’d left Simon behind to come and talk to him.

Things did change. He’d gone from being eaten up with jealousy of Simon, to a grudging respect for his tenacity and courage, to actually considering him a friend, though he doubted he’d ever say so out loud. Jace watched as Clary looked over and blew him a kiss, her red hair bouncing in its ponytail. She was so small—delicate, doll-like, he had thought once, before he’d learned how strong she was.

Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult