City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments 6) - Page 75

Listen Audio



The Endarkened woman had pale skin and long coppery hair. It might have been pretty once but was now tangled with dirt and twigs. She didn’t appear to care, just placed the plates of food—gruel, soupy and gray-looking, for Magnus and Luke, and a bottle of blood for Raphael—on the floor and turned away from the prisoners.

Neither Luke nor Magnus moved toward their food. Magnus felt too sick to have much of an appetite. Besides, he was vaguely suspicious that Sebastian had poisoned the gruel, or drugged it, or both. Raphael, though, seized up the bottle and drank from it hungrily, swallowing until blood ran out of the corners of his mouth.

“Now, now, Raphael,” said a voice from the shadows, and Sebastian Morgenstern appeared in the open doorway. The Endarkened woman bowed her head and hurried out past him, shutting the door behind her.

He really looked astonishingly like his father had at his age, Magnus thought. Those odd black eyes, entirely black without a hint of brown or hazel, the sort of feature that was beautiful because it was unusual. The same fanatic twitch to his smile. Jace had never had that—he had recklessness, and the anarchic joy of imagined self-annihilation, but he was not a zealot. Which, Magnus thought, was precisely why Valentine had sent him away. To crush your opposition, you needed a hammer, and Jace was a much more delicate weapon than that.

“Where’s Jocelyn?” It was Luke, of course, his voice a low growl, his hands in fists at his sides. Magnus wondered what it was like for Luke to look at Sebastian, whether the resemblance to Valentine, who had once been his parabatai, was painful, or whether that loss had faded long ago. “Where is she?”

Sebastian laughed, and that was something that was different about him; Valentine had never been a man who laughed easily. Jace’s sarcastic humor seemed to have been born into his blood, a distinctly Herondale trait. “She’s fine,” he said, “just fine, by which I mean she’s still alive. Which is the best you can hope for, really.”

“I want to see her,” Luke said.

“Hmm,” Sebastian said, as if considering it. “No. I don’t see the advantage in it to me.”

“She’s your mother,” said Luke. “You could be kind to her.”

“It’s none of your business, dog.” For the first time there was a shadow of youth in Sebastian’s voice, an edge of petulance. “You, with your hands all over my mother, making Clary believe you’re her family—”

“I’m more her family than you are,” said Luke, and Magnus shot him a warning look as Sebastian whitened, his fingers twitching toward his belt, where the hilt of the Morgenstern sword was visible.

“Don’t,” Magnus said in a low voice, and then, louder, “You know if you touch Luke, Clary will hate you. Jocelyn, too.”

Sebastian drew his hand away from his sword with a visible effort. “I said I never intended to harm her.”

“No, just hold her hostage,” Magnus said. “You want something—something from the Clave, or something from Clary and Jace. I’d guess the latter; the Clave has never interested you much, but you do care what your sister thinks. She and I are very close, by the way,” he added.

“You’re not that close.” Sebastian’s tone was withering. “I’m hardly going to spare the life of everyone she’s ever met. I’m not that crazy.”

“You seem very crazy,” said Raphael, who had been silent up until that point.

“Raphael,” Magnus said in a warning tone, but Sebastian didn’t seem angry. He was regarding Raphael with a considering look.

“Raphael Santiago,” he said. “Leader of the New York clan—or aren’t you? No, it was Camille who held that position, and now the little mad girl. That must be quite frustrating for you. It really seems to me that the Shadowhunters of Manhattan ought to have stepped in before now. Neither Camille nor poor Maureen Brown were fit to be leaders. They broke the Accords—they cared nothing for the Law. But you do. It seems to me that of all the Downworld races, the vampires have been most ill treated by Shadowhunters. One only needs to look at your situation.”

“Raphael,” Magnus said again, and tried to lean forward, to catch the vampire’s eye, but Magnus’s chains pulled tight, rattling. He winced at the pain in his wrists.

Raphael was sitting back on his heels, his cheeks flushed from his recent feeding. His hair was tousled; he looked as young as he had when Magnus had first met him. “I do not see why you are telling me this,” he said.

“You can’t say I’ve mistreated you more than your vampire leaders,” said Sebastian. “I’ve fed you. I haven’t put you in a cage. You know I’ll win; you all know it. And on that day I’ll be happy to make sure you, Raphael, rule all the vampires in New York—in fact, all the vampires in North America. You’re welcome to them. All I need is for you to bring the other Night’s Children to my side. The Fair Folk have already joined with me. The Court always picks the winning side. Shouldn’t you?”

Raphael rose to his feet. There was blood on his hands; he frowned down at them. Raphael was nothing if not fastidious. “That seems reasonable,” he said. “I shall join you.”

Luke dropped his face into his hands. Through his teeth Magnus said, “Raphael, you have truly lived down to my lowest expectations of you.”

“Magnus, it doesn’t matter,” said Luke; he was being protective, Magnus knew. Raphael had already gone to stand by Sebastian’s side. “Let him go. He’s no loss.”

Raphael snorted. “No loss, you say,” he said. “I am well quit of you idiots, flopping about this cell, whining about your friends and lovers. You are weak and have always been weak—”

“I should have let you walk into the daylight,” Magnus said, and his voice was ice.

Raphael flinched—it was barely a movement, but Magnus saw it. Not that it brought him much satisfaction.

Sebastian saw the flinch, though, and the look in his dark eyes intensified. From his belt he produced a knife—thin, with a narrow blade. A misericord, a “mercy-killer,” the kind of blade that was meant to pierce through the gaps in armor and deliver a killing stroke.

Raphael, seeing the flash of metal, stepped back quickly, but Sebastian only smiled and flipped the blade in his hand. He offered it to Raphael, hilt-first. “Take it,” he said.

Raphael reached out a hand, his eyes suspicious. He took the knife and held it, dangling loosely—vampires had little use for weapons. They were their own weapons.

“Very good,” said Sebastian. “Now let us seal our agreement in blood. Kill the warlock.”

The blade dropped from Raphael’s hand and clattered to the ground. With a look of irritation Sebastian bent and snatched it up, putting it back into the vampire’s hand.

“We do not kill with knives,” Raphael said, staring from the blade to Sebastian’s cold expression.

“You do now,” said Sebastian. “I won’t have you tearing out his throat; too messy, too easy to get it wrong. Do as I tell you. Go to the warlock and stab him to death. Cut his throat, pierce his heart—however you like.”

Raphael turned toward Magnus. Luke started forward; Magnus held up a warning hand. “Luke,” he said. “Don’t.”

“Raphael, if you do this, there will be no peace between the pack and the Night’s Children, not now or ever again,” Luke said, his eyes gleaming with a green shine.

Sebastian laughed. “You can’t imagine you’ll ever hold sway over a pack again, can you, Lucian Graymark? When I win this war, and I will, I will rule with my sister beside me, and keep you in a cage for her to throw bones to when it amuses her.”

Raphael took another step toward Magnus. His eyes were enormous. His throat had been kissed so many times by the crucifix he wore that the scar never left. The blade gleamed in his hand.

“If you think Clary would tolerate—” Luke began, and then turned away. He moved toward Raphael, but Sebastian was already in front of him, blocking his way with the Morgenstern blade.

Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult