City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments 6) - Page 95

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“No,” said Alec, and there was a dangerous note in his voice. “You said there was no way for us to do it, meaning there might be someone who could.”

Magnus drew away from Alec and looked around at them all. His expression was unguarded, stripped of its usual distance, and he looked both very young and very, very old. His face was a young man’s face, but his eyes had seen centuries pass, and never had Clary been more aware of it. “There are worse things than death,” Magnus said.

“Maybe you should let us be the judge of that,” said Alec, and Magnus scrubbed a despairing hand across his face and said, “Dear God. Alexander, I have gone my whole life without ever taking recourse to this path, save once, when I learned my lesson. It is not a lesson I want the rest of you to learn.”

“But you’re alive,” said Clary. “You lived through the lesson.”

Magnus smiled an awful smile. “It wouldn’t be much of a lesson if I hadn’t,” he said. “But I was duly warned. Playing dice with my own life is one thing; playing with all of yours—”

“We’ll die here anyway,” said Jace. “It’s a rigged game. Let us take our chances.”

“I agree,” Isabelle said, and the others chimed in their agreement as well. Magnus looked toward the dais, where Luke and Jocelyn still knelt, and sighed.

“Majority vote,” he said. “Did you know there’s an old Downworlder saying about mad dogs and Nephilim never heeding a warning?”

“Magnus—” Alec began, but Magnus only shook his head and drew himself weakly to his feet. He still wore the rags of the clothes he must have put on for that long-ago dinner at the Fair Folk’s refuge in Idris: the incongruous shreds of a suit jacket and tie. Rings sparkled on his fingers as he brought his hands together, as if in prayer, and closed his eyes.

“My father,” he said, and Clary heard Alec suck in his breath with a gasp. “My father, who art in Hell, unhallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in Edom as it is in Hell. Forgive not my sins, for in that fire of fires there shall be neither loving kindness, nor compassion, nor redemption. My father, who makes war in high places and low, come to me now; I call you as your son, and incur upon myself the responsibility of your summoning.”

Magnus opened his eyes. He was expressionless. Five shocked faces looked back at him.

“By the Angel—” Alec started.

“No,” said a voice just beyond their huddled group. “Definitely not by your Angel.”

Clary stared. At first she saw nothing, just a shifting patch of shadow, and then a figure evolved out of the darkness. A tall man, as pale as bone, in a pure white suit; silver cuff links gleamed at his wrists, carved in the shape of flies. His face was a human face, pale skin pulled tight over bone, cheekbones sharp as blades. He didn’t have hair so much as a sparkling coronet of barbed wires.

His eyes were gold-green, and slit-pupilled like a cat’s.

“Father,” said Magnus, and the word was an exhalation of sorrow. “You came.”

The man smiled. His front teeth were sharp, pointed like feline teeth. “My son,” he said. “It has been a long time since you called on me. I was beginning to despair that you ever would again.”

“I hadn’t planned to,” Magnus said dryly. “I called on you once, to determine that you were my father. That once was enough.”

“You wound me,” said the man, and he turned his pointed-tooth smile on the others. “I am Asmodeus,” he said. “One of the Nine Princes of Hell. You may know my name.”

Alec made a short sound, quickly muffled.

“I was a seraphim once, one of the angels indeed,” continued Asmodeus, looking pleased with himself. “Part of an innumerable company. Then came the war, and we fell like stars from Heaven. I followed the Light-Bringer down, the Morning Star, for I was one of his chief advisers, and when he fell, I fell with him. He raised me up in Hell and made me one of the nine rulers. In case you were wondering, it is preferable to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven—I’ve done both.”

“You’re—Magnus’s father?” said Alec in a strangled voice. He turned to Magnus. “When you held the witchlight in the subway tunnel, it flared up in colors—is that because of him?” He pointed at Asmodeus.

“Yes,” Magnus said. He looked very tired. “I warned you, Alexander, that this was something you would not like.”

“I don’t see what the fuss is about. I have been the father of many warlocks,” said Asmodeus. “Magnus has made me the most proud.”

“Who are the others?” Isabelle asked, her dark eyes suspicious.

“What he’s not saying is that they’re mostly dead,” Magnus said. He met his father’s eyes briefly and then looked away, as if he couldn’t stand prolonged eye contact. His thin, sensitive mouth was set in a hard line. “He’s also not telling you that all princes of Hell have a realm they rule; this is his.”

“Since this place—Edom—is your realm,” Jace said, “then you’re responsible for—for what happened here?”

“It is my realm, though I am rarely here,” said Asmodeus with a martyred sigh. “Used to be an exciting place. The Nephilim of this realm put up quite the fight. When they invented the skeptron, I rather thought they might win out at the last moment, but the Jonathan Shadowhunter of this world was a divider, not a uniter, and in the end they destroyed themselves. Everyone does, you know. We demons get the blame, but we only open the door. It is humanity who steps through it.”

“Don’t excuse yourself,” Magnus snapped. “You as much as murdered my mother—”

“She was a willing little piece, I assure you,” said Asmodeus, and Magnus flushed red across his cheekbones. Clary felt a dull pang of shock that it was actually possible to do that to Magnus, to hurt him with barbs about his family. It had been so long, and he was so collected.

But then, perhaps your parents could always hurt you, no matter how old you were.

“Let’s cut to the business part of this,” said Magnus. “You can open a door, correct? Send us through to Idris, back to our world?”

“Would you like a demonstration?” Asmodeus asked, flicking his fingers toward the dais, where Luke was on his feet, looking toward them. Jocelyn seemed about to rise, too. Clary could see the expression of concern on both their faces—just before they winked out of existence. There was a shimmer of air and they both vanished, taking Jonathan’s body with them. Just as they vanished, for a moment, Clary glimpsed the inside of the Accords Hall, the mermaid fountain and the marble floor, and then it was gone, like a tear in the universe sewing itself back up again.

A cry broke from Clary’s throat. “Mom!”

“I sent them back to your world,” said Asmodeus. “Now you know.” He examined his nails.

Clary was panting, half with panic, half with rage. “How dare you—”

“Well, it’s what you wanted, isn’t it?” said Asmodeus. “There, you got the first two for free. The rest, well, it’ll cost you.” He sighed at the looks on the faces around him. “I’m a demon,” he said pointedly. “Really, what do they teach Nephilim these days?”

“I know what you want,” Magnus said in a strained voice. “And you can have it. But you must swear on the Morning Star to send all my friends back to Idris, all of them, and never to bother them again. They will owe you nothing.”

Alec stepped forward. “Stop,” he said. “No—Magnus, what do you mean, what he wants? Why are you talking like you’re not coming back to Idris with us?”

“There is a time,” said Asmodeus, “when we must all return to live in the houses of our fathers. Now is Magnus’s time.”

“‘In my father’s house are many mansions,’” Jace whispered; he looked very pale, and as if he might throw up. “Magnus. He can’t mean—he doesn’t want to take you back with him? Back to—”

Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult