City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments 6) - Page 44

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The bodies were burning on orderly rows of pyres that had been set up along the road to Brocelind Forest. The sun was beginning to set behind a cloudy white sky, and as each pyre went up, it burst in orange sparks. The effect was oddly beautiful, although Jia Penhallow doubted that any of the mourners gathered on the plain thought so.

For some reason a rhyme she had learned as a child was repeating itself in her head.

Black for hunting through the night

For death and mourning the color’s white

Gold for a bride in her wedding gown

And red to call enchantment down.

White silk when our bodies burn,

Blue banners when the lost return.

Flame for the birth of a Nephilim,

And to wash away our sins.

Gray for knowledge best untold,

Bone for those who don’t grow old.

Saffron lights the victory march,

Green will mend our broken hearts.

Silver for the demon towers,

And bronze to summon wicked powers.

Bone for those who don’t grow old. Brother Enoch, in his bone-colored robes, was striding up and down the line of pyres. Shadowhunters stood or knelt or cast into the orange flames handfuls of the pale white Alicante flowers that grew even in the winter.

“Consul.” The voice at her shoulder was soft. She turned to see Brother Zachariah—the boy who had once been Brother Zachariah, at least—standing at her shoulder. “Brother Enoch said you wished to speak to me.”

“Brother Zachariah,” she began, and then paused. “Is there another name by which you wish to be called? The name you had before you became a Silent Brother?”

“?‘Zachariah’ will do fine for now,” he said. “I am not yet ready to reclaim my old name.”

“I have heard,” she said, and paused, for the next bit was awkward, “that one of the warlocks of the Spiral Labyrinth, Theresa Gray, is someone whom you knew and cared for during your mortal life. And for someone who has been a Silent Brother as long as you have, that must be a rare thing.”

“She is all I have left from that time,” said Zachariah. “She and Magnus. I would have wished to talk to Magnus, if I could have, before he—”

“Would you like to go to the Spiral Labyrinth?” Jia interrupted.

Zachariah looked down at her with startled eyes. He looked about the same age as her daughter, Jia thought, his lashes impossibly long, his eyes both young and old at the same time. “You’re releasing me from Alicante? Aren’t all warriors needed?”

“You have served the Clave for more than a hundred and thirty years. We can ask no more of you.”

He looked back at the pyres, at the black smoke smearing the air. “How much does the Spiral Labyrinth know? Of the attacks on the Institutes, the Citadel, the representatives?”

“They are students of lore,” said Jia. “Not warriors or politicians. They know of what happened at the Burren. We have discussed Sebastian’s magic, possible cures for the Endarkened, ways to strengthen the wards. They do not ask beyond that—”

“And you do not tell,” said Zachariah. “So they do not know of the Citadel, the representatives?”

Jia set her jaw. “I suppose you will say I must tell them.”

“No,” he said. He had his hands in his pockets; his breath was visible on the cold clear air. “I will not say that.”

They stood side by side, in the snow and silence, until, to her surprise, he spoke again:

“I will not go to the Spiral Labyrinth. I will stay in Idris.”

“But don’t you want to see her?”

“I want to see Tessa more than I want anything else in the world,” said Zachariah. “But if she knew more of what was happening here, she would want to be here and fight beside us, and I find that I do not want that.” His dark hair fell forward as he shook his head. “I find that as I waken from being a Silent Brother, I am capable of not wanting that. Perhaps it is selfishness. I am not sure. But I am sure that the warlocks in the Spiral Labyrinth are safe. Tessa is safe. If I go to her, I will be safe as well, but I will also be hiding. I am not a warlock; I cannot be a help to the Labyrinth. I can be a help here.”

“You could go to the Labyrinth and return. It would be complicated, but I could request—”

“No,” he said quietly. “I cannot see Tessa face-to-face and keep from telling her the truth about what is happening here. And more than that, I cannot go to Tessa and present myself to her as a mortal man, as a Shadowhunter, and not tell her the feelings I had for her when I was—” He broke off. “That my feelings are unchanged. I cannot offer her that, and then return to a place where I might be killed. Better she thinks there never was a chance for us.”

“Better you think it as well,” said Jia, looking at his face, at the hope and longing that was painted there clearly for anyone to see. She looked over at Robert and Maryse Lightwood, standing a distance apart from each other in the snow. Not far away was her own daughter, Aline, leaning her head against Helen Blackthorn’s curly blond one. “We Shadowhunters, we put ourselves in danger, every hour, every day. I think sometimes we are reckless with our hearts the way we are with our lives. When we give them away, we give every piece. And if we do not get what we so desperately need, how do we live?”

“You think she might not still love me,” said Zachariah. “After all this time.”

Jia said nothing. It was, after all, exactly what she thought.

“It is a reasonable question,” he said. “And perhaps she does not. As long as she is alive and well and happy in this world, I will find a way to be happy as well, even if it is not beside her.” He looked over at the pyres, at the lengthening shadows of the dead. “Which body is that of young Longford? The one who killed his parabatai?”

“There.” Jia pointed. “Why do you want to know?”

“It is the worst thing I can imagine ever having to do. I would not have been brave enough. Since there is someone who was, I wish to pay my respects to him,” said Zachariah, and he walked away across the snow-dusted ground toward the fires.

“The funeral’s over,” Isabelle said. “Or at least, the smoke’s stopped rising.” She was perched on the windowsill of her room in the Inquisitor’s house. The room was small and white-painted, with flowered curtains. Not very Isabelle, Clary thought, but then it would have been hard to replicate Isabelle’s powder-and-glitter-strewn room in New York on short notice.

“I was reading my Codex the other day.” Clary finished buttoning up the blue wool cardigan she’d changed into. She couldn’t stand to keep on for one more second the sweater she’d been wearing all yesterday, had slept in, and that Sebastian had touched. “And I was thinking. Mundanes kill one another all the time. We—they—have wars, all kinds of wars, and slaughter one another, but this is the first time Nephilim have ever had to kill other Shadowhunters. When Jace and I were trying to convince Robert to let us go through to the Citadel, I couldn’t understand why he was being so stubborn. But I think I kind of get it now. I think he couldn’t believe that Shadowhunters could really pose a threat to other Shadowhunters. No matter what we told them about the Burren.”

Isabelle laughed shortly. “That’s charitable of you.” She pulled her knees up to her chest. “You know, your mom took me to the Adamant Citadel with her. They said I would have made a good Iron Sister.”

“I saw them at the battle,” said Clary. “The Sisters. They were beautiful. And scary. Like looking at fire.”

“But they can’t get married. They can’t be with anyone. They live forever, but they don’t—they don’t have lives.” Isabelle rested her chin on her knees.

“There’s all different ways of living,” said Clary. “And look at Brother Zachariah—”

Isabelle glanced up. “I heard my parents talking about him on the way to the Council meeting today,” she said. “They said what happened to him was a miracle. I’ve never heard of anyone ending being a Silent Brother before. I mean they can die, but reversing the spells, it shouldn’t be possible.”

Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult