City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments 6) - Page 97

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“Human memories, freely given, are like food to us,” said Asmodeus. “Demons live on the cries and agony of the damned in torment. Imagine then, how nice a change of pace a feast of happy memories is. Mixed together, they are delicious, the sour and the sweet.” He looked around, his cat’s eyes glittering. “And I can already tell there will be many happy memories to take, little vampire, for you are much loved, are you not?”

Simon looked strained. He said, “But if you take my memories, who will I be? I don’t—”

“Well,” said Asmodeus. “I could take every memory you have and leave you a drooling idiot, I suppose, but really, who wants the memories of a baby? Dull, dull. The question is, what would be the most fun? Memories are delicious, but so is pain. What would cause the most pain to your friends, here? What would remind them to fear the power and the wit of demons?” He clasped his hands behind his back. Each of the buttons of his white suit was carved in the shape of a fly.

“I promised my immortality,” Simon said. “Not my memories. You said ‘freely given’—”

“God in Hell, the banality,” said Asmodeus, and he moved, as swift as a lick of flame, to seize Simon by the forearm. Isabelle darted forward, as if to catch hold of Simon, and then flinched back with a gasp. A red welt had appeared across her cheek. She put her hand to it, looking shocked.

“Leave her alone,” Simon snapped, and wrenched his arm out of the demon’s grip.

“Downworlder,” the demon breathed, and touched his long, spidery fingers to Simon’s cheek. “You must have had a heart that beat so strong in you, when it still beat.”

“Let him go,” Jace said, drawing his sword. “He is ours, not yours; the Nephilim protect what belongs to us—”

“No!” Simon said. He was shivering all over, but his back was straight. “Jace, don’t. This is the only way.”

“Indeed it is,” said Asmodeus. “For none of you can fight a Prince of Hell in his place of power; not even you, Jace Herondale, child of angels, or you, Clarissa Fairchild, with your tricks and runes.” He moved his fingers, slightly; Jace’s sword clattered to the ground, and Jace jerked his hand back, grimacing in pain as if he’d been burned. Asmodeus spared him only a glance before raising his hand again.

“There is the gateway. Look.” He gestured toward the wall, which shimmered and came clear. Through it Clary could see the hazy outlines of the Hall of Accords. There were the bodies of the Endarkened, lying on the ground in heaps of scarlet, and there were the Shadowhunters, running, stumbling, hugging, embracing one another—victory after the battle.

And there were her mother and Luke, looking around in bewilderment. They were still in the same position they had been in on the dais: Luke standing, Jocelyn kneeling with her son’s body in her arms. Other Shadowhunters were only just beginning to glance toward them, surprised, as if they had appeared out of nowhere—which they had.

“There is everything you want,” said Asmodeus, as the gateway flickered and went dark. “And in return I shall take the Daylighter’s immortality, and along with it, his memories of the Shadow World—all his memories of all of you, of all he has learned, of all he has been. That is my desire.”

Simon’s eyes widened; Clary felt her heart give a terrible lurch. Magnus looked as if someone had stabbed him. “There it is,” he whispered. “The trick at the heart of the game. There always is one, with demons.”

Isabelle looked incredulous. “Are you saying you want him to forget us?”

“Everything about you, and that he ever knew you,” said Asmodeus. “I offer you this in exchange. He will live. He will have the life of an ordinary mundane. He will have his family back; his mother, his sister. Friends, school, all the trappings of a normal human life.”

Clary looked at Simon desperately. He was shaking, clenching and unclenching his hands. He said nothing.

“Absolutely not,” said Jace.

“Fine. Then you’ll all die here. You really don’t have much leverage, little Shadowhunter. What are memories when weighed against such a great cost of life?”

“You’re talking about who Simon is,” said Clary. “You’re talking about taking him away from us forever.”

“Yes. Isn’t it delightful?” Asmodeus smiled.

“This is ridiculous,” said Isabelle. “Say you do take his memories. What’s to stop us from tracking him down and telling him about the Shadow World? Introducing him to magic? We did it before, we can do it again.”

“Before, he knew you, knew and trusted Clary,” said Asmodeus. “Now he will know none of you. You will all be strangers to him, and why should he listen to mad strangers? Besides, you know Covenant Law as well as I do. You will be breaking it, telling him about the Shadow World for no reason at all, endangering his life. There were special circumstances before. Now there will not be. The Clave will strip all your runes if you try it.”

“Speaking of the Clave,” said Jace. “They’re not going to be too pleased if you toss a mundane back out into a life where everyone he knows thinks he’s a vampire. All Simon’s friends know! His family knows! His sister, his mother. They’ll tell him, even if we don’t.”

“I see.” Asmodeus looked displeased. “That does complicate things. Perhaps I should take Magnus’s immortality after all—”

“No,” Simon said. He looked shocked, sick on his feet, but his voice was determined. Asmodeus looked at him with covetous eyes.

“Simon, shut up,” Magnus said desperately. “Take me instead, Father—”

“I want the Daylighter,” said Asmodeus. “Magnus, Magnus. You’ve never quite understood what it is to be a demon, have you? To feed on pain? But what is pain? Physical torment, that’s so dull; any garden-variety demon can do that. To be an artist of pain, to create agony, to blacken the soul, to turn pure motives to filth, and love to lust and then to hate, to turn a source of joy to a source of torture, that is what we exist for!” His voice rang out. “I shall go forth into the mundane world. I will strip the memories of those close to the Daylighter. They will remember him only as mortal. They will not remember Clary at all.”

“No!” Clary shouted, and Asmodeus threw his head back and laughed, a dazzling laugh that made her remember that once he had been an angel.

“You can’t take our memories,” said Isabelle furiously. “We’re Nephilim. It would be tantamount to an attack. The Clave—”

“Your memories you may keep,” said Asmodeus. “Nothing about your remembering Simon will get me in trouble with the Clave, and besides, it will torment you, which only doubles my pleasure.” He grinned. “I shall rip a hole through the heart of your world, and when you feel it, you will think on me and remember me. Remember!” Asmodeus pulled Simon close, his hand sliding up to press against Simon’s chest, as if he could reach through his rib cage into his heart. “We begin here. Are you ready, Daylighter?”

“Stop!” Isabelle stepped forward, her whip in hand, her eyes burning. “We know your name, demon. Do you think I am afraid to slay even a Prince of Hell? I would hang your head on my wall like a trophy, and if you dare touch Simon, I will hunt you down. I will spend my life hunting you—”

Alec wrapped his arms around his sister, and held her tightly. “Isabelle,” he said quietly. “No.”

“What do you mean, no?” Clary demanded. “We can’t let this happen—Jace—”

“This is Simon’s choice.” Jace stood stock-still; he was ashy pale but unmoving. His eyes were locked on Simon’s. “We have to honor it.”

Simon looked back at Jace, and inclined his head. His gaze was moving slowly over all of them, flicking from Magnus to Alec, to Jace, to Isabelle, where it stopped and rested, and was so full of broken possibilities that Clary felt her own heart break.

And then his gaze moved to Clary, and she felt the rest of her shatter. There was so much in his expression, so many years of so much love, so many whispered secrets and promises and shared dreams. She saw him reach down, and then something bright arced through the air toward her. She reached up and caught it, reflexively. It was the golden ring Clary had given him. Her hand tightened around it, feeling the bite of metal against her palm, welcoming the pain.

“Enough,” said Asmodeus. “I hate good-byes.” And he tightened his grip on Simon. Simon gasped, his eyes flying wide open; his hand went to his chest.

“My heart—” he gasped, and Clary knew, knew from the look on his face, that it had started beating again. She blinked against her tears as a white mist exploded up around them. She heard Simon cry out in pain; her own feet moved without volition and she ran forward, only to be hurled back as if she had struck an invisible wall. Someone caught her—Jace, she thought. There were arms around her, even as the mist circled Simon and the demon like a small tornado, half-blocking them from view.

Shapes began to appear in the mist as it thickened. Clary saw herself and Simon as children, holding hands, crossing a street in Brooklyn; she had barrettes in her hair and Simon was adorably rumpled, his glasses sliding off his nose. There they were again, throwing snowballs in Prospect Park; and at Luke’s farmhouse, tanned from summer, hanging upside down from tree branches. She saw them in Java Jones, listening to Eric’s terrible poetry, and on the back of a flying motorcycle as it crashed into a parking lot, with Jace there, looking at them, his eyes squinted against the sun. And there was Simon with Isabelle, his hands curved around her face, kissing her, and she could see Isabelle as Simon saw her: fragile and strong, and so, so beautiful. And there was Valentine’s ship, Simon kneeling on Jace, blood on his mouth and shirt, and blood at Jace’s throat, and there was the cell in Idris, and Hodge’s weathered face, and Simon and Clary again, Clary etching the Mark of Cain onto his forehead. Maureen, and her blood on the floor, and her little pink hat, and the rooftop in Manhattan where Lilith had raised Sebastian, and Clary was passing him a gold ring across a table, and an Angel was rising out of a lake before him, and he was kissing Isabelle . . .

All Simon’s memories, his memories of magic, his memories of all of them, being drawn out and spun into a skein. It shimmered, as white-gold as daylight. There was a sound all around them, like a gathering storm, but Clary barely heard it. She reached her hands out, beseeching, though she didn’t know who she was begging. “Please—”

She felt Jace’s arms tighten around her, and then the edge of the storm caught her. She was lifted up, whirled away. She saw the stone room recede into the distance at a terrible speed, and the storm took her cries for Simon and turned them into a sound like the ragged tearing of wind. Jace’s hands were torn from her shoulders. She was alone in the chaos, and for a moment she thought Asmodeus had lied to them after all, that there was no gateway, and that they would float in this nothingness forever until they died.

And then the ground came up, fast. She saw the floor of the Accords Hall, hard marble veined with gold, before she hit it. The collision was hard, rattling her teeth; she rolled automatically, as she’d been taught, and came to a stop at the side of the mermaid fountain in the center of the room.

She sat up and looked around. The room was full of utterly silent, staring faces, but they didn’t matter. She wasn’t looking for strangers. She saw Jace first; he had landed in a crouch, poised to fight. She saw his shoulders relax as he looked around, realizing where they were, that they were in Idris, and the war was over. And there was Alec; he had his hand still in Magnus’s. Magnus looked sick and exhausted, but he was alive.

And there was Isabelle. She had come through the closest to Clary, only a foot or so away. She was already on her feet, her gaze scanning the room, once, twice, a desperate third time. They were all there, all of them, all except one.

She looked down at Clary; her eyes were shining with tears. “Simon’s not here,” she said. “He’s really gone.”

The silence that had held the assembly of Shadowhunters in its grip seemed to break like a wave: Suddenly there were Nephilim running toward them. Clary saw her mother and Luke, Robert and Maryse, Aline and Helen, even Emma Carstairs, moving to surround them, to embrace them and heal them and help them. Clary knew they meant well, that they were running to the rescue, but she felt no relief. Her hand tightening on the gold ring in her palm, she curled up against the floor and finally allowed herself to cry.

Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult