City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments 6) - Page 98

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“Who stands, then, to represent the Faerie Courts?” said Jia Penhallow.

The Hall of Accords was draped with the blue banners of victory. They looked like pieces cut out of the sky. Each was stamped with a golden rune of triumph. It was a clear winter day outside, and the light that poured through the windows shimmered across the long lines of chairs that had been set up facing the raised dais at the center of the room, where the Consul and the Inquisitor sat at a long table. The table itself was decorated with more gold and blue: massive golden candlesticks that nearly obscured Emma’s view of the Downworlders who also shared the table: Luke, representing the werewolves; a young woman named Lily, representing the vampires; and the very famous Magnus Bane, the representative for the warlocks.

No seat had been placed at the table for a representative of Faerie. Slowly, from among the seated crowd, a young woman rose to her feet. Her eyes were entirely blue with no white, her ears pointed like Helen’s. “I am Kaelie Whitewillow,” she said. “I will stand for the Seelie Court.”

“But not for the Unseelie?” said Jia, her pen hovering above a scroll of paper.

Kaelie shook her head, her lips pressed together. A murmur ran through the room. For all the brightness of the banners, the mood in the room was tense, not joyful. In the row of seats in front of the Blackthorns sat the Lightwoods: Maryse with her back ramrod-straight, and beside her, Isabelle and Alec, their dark heads bent together as they whispered.

Jocelyn Fairchild sat beside Maryse, but there was no sign anywhere of Clary Fray or Jace Lightwood.

“The Unseelie Court declines a representative,” said Jia, noting it down with her pen. She looked at Kaelie over the rims of her glasses. “What word do you bring us from the Seelie Court? Do they agree to our terms?”

Emma heard Helen, at the end of her row of seats, take a deep breath. Dru and Tavvy and the twins had been considered too young to come to the meeting; technically no one under eighteen was allowed, but special considerations had been made for those, like her and Julian, who had been directly affected by what was coming to be called the Dark War.

Kaelie moved to the aisle between the rows of seats and began to walk toward the dais; Robert Lightwood rose to his feet. “You must ask permission to approach the Consul,” he said in his gravelly voice.

“Permission is not given,” said Jia tightly. “Stay where you are, Kaelie Whitewillow. I can hear you perfectly well.”

Emma felt a sudden brief burst of pity for the faerie girl—everyone was staring at her with eyes like knives. Everyone except Aline and Helen, who sat pressed close together; they were holding each other’s hands, and their knuckles were white.

“The Faerie Court asks for your mercy,” Kaelie said, clasping her slim hands in front of her. “The terms you have set down are too harsh. The faeries have always had their own sovereignty, our own kings and queens. We have always had warriors. We are an ancient people. What you ask for will crush us completely.”

A low murmur ran around the room. It was not a friendly noise. Jia picked up the paper lying on the table in front of her. “Shall we review?” she said. “We ask that the Faerie Courts accept all responsibility for the loss of life and damage sustained by Shadowhunters and Downworlders in the Dark War. The Fair Folk shall be responsible for the costs of rebuilding broken wards, for the reestablishment of the Praetor Lupus on Long Island, and the rebuilding of what in Alicante has been destroyed. You will spend your own riches upon it. As for the Shadowhunters taken from us—”

“If you mean Mark Blackthorn, he was taken by the Wild Hunt,” Kaelie said. “We have no jurisdiction over them. You will have to negotiate with them yourselves, though we will not prevent it.”

“He was not all that was taken from us,” said Jia. “There is that for which there can be no reparation—the loss of life sustained by Shadowhunters and lycanthropes in battle, those who were torn from us by the Infernal Cup—”

“That was Sebastian Morgenstern, not the Courts,” Kaelie protested. “He was a Shadowhunter.”

“And that’s why we are not punishing you with a war that you would inevitably lose,” said Jia coldly. “Instead we insist merely that you disband your armies, that there be no more Fair Folk warriors. You may no longer bear arms. Any faerie found carrying a weapon without a dispensation from the Clave will be killed on sight.”

“The terms are too severe,” Kaelie protested. “The Fair Folk cannot abide under them! If we are weaponless, we cannot defend ourselves!”

“We will put it to a vote, then,” said Jia, setting her paper down. “Any not in favor of the terms set down for the Fair Folk, please speak now.”

There was a long silence. Emma could see Helen’s eyes roving the room, her mouth pinched at the sides; Aline was holding her wrist tightly. Finally there was the sound of a chair scraping back, echoing in the silence, and one lone figure rose to his feet.

Magnus Bane. He was still pale from his ordeal in Edom, but his gold-green eyes burned with an intensity that Emma could see from across the room. “I know that mundane history is not of enormous interest to most Shadowhunters,” he said. “But there was a time before the Nephilim. A time when Rome battled the city of Carthage, and over the course of many wars was victorious. After one of the wars, Rome demanded that Carthage pay them tribute, that Carthage abandon their army, and that the land of Carthage be sowed with salt. The historian Tacitus said of the Romans that ‘they make a desert and call it peace.’?” He turned to Jia. “The Carthaginians never forgot. Their hatred of Rome sparked another war in the end, and that war ended in death and slavery. That was not peace. This is not peace.”

At that, there were catcalls from the assembly.

“Perhaps we don’t want peace, warlock!” someone shouted.

“What’s your solution, then?” shouted someone else.

“Leniency,” said Magnus. “The Fair Folk have long hated the Nephilim for their harshness. Show them something other than harshness, and you will receive something other than hate in return!”

Noise burst out again, louder than ever this time; Jia raised a hand, and the crowd quieted. “Does anyone else speak for the Fair Folk?” she asked.

Magnus, taking his seat again, glanced sideways at his fellow Downworlders, but Lily was smirking and Luke was staring down at the table with a fixed look on his face. It was common knowledge that his sister had been the first taken and Endarkened by Sebastian Morgenstern, that many of the wolves in the Praetor had been his friends, including Jordan Kyle—and yet there was doubt on his face—

“Luke,” Magnus said in a soft voice that somehow managed to echo through the room. “Please.”

The doubt vanished. Luke shook his head grimly. “Don’t ask for what I can’t give,” he said. “The whole Praetor was slaughtered, Magnus. As the representative of the werewolves, I cannot speak against what they all want. If I did, they would turn against the Clave, and nothing would be accomplished by that.”

“There it is, then,” Jia said. “Speak, Kaelie Whitewillow. Will you agree to the terms, or will there be war between us?”

The faerie girl bowed her head. “We agree to the terms.”

The assembly burst into applause. Only a few did not clap: Magnus, the row of Blackthorns, the Lightwoods, and Emma herself. She was too busy watching Kaelie as the faerie sat down. Her head might have been bowed submissively, but her face was full of a white-hot rage.

“So it is done,” said Jia, clearly pleased. “Now we move to the subject of—”

“Wait.” A thin Shadowhunter with dark hair had risen to his feet. Emma didn’t recognize him. He could have been anyone. A Cartwright? A Pontmercy? “There remains the question of Mark and Helen Blackthorn.”

Helen’s eyes closed. She looked like someone who had been half-expecting a guilty sentence in a trial and half-hoping for a reprieve, and this was the moment after the guilty sentence had fallen.

Jia paused, her pen in her hand. “What do you mean, Balogh?”

Balogh drew himself up. “There’s already been discussion of the fact that Morgenstern’s forces penetrated the Los Angeles Institute so easily. Both Mark and Helen Blackthorn have the blood of faeries in them. We know the boy’s already joined up with the Wild Hunt, so he’s beyond us, but the girl shouldn’t be among Shadowhunters. It isn’t decent.”

Aline shot to her feet. “That’s ridiculous!” she spat. “Helen’s a Shadowhunter; she’s always been one! She’s got the blood of the Angel in her—you can’t turn your back on that!”

“And the blood of faeries,” said Balogh. “She can lie. We’ve already been tricked by one of her sort, to our sorrow. I say we strip her Marks—”

Luke brought his hand down on the table with a loud slam; Magnus was hunched forward, his long-fingered hands covering his face, his shoulders slumped. “The girl’s done nothing,” Luke said. “You can’t punish her for an accident of birth.”

“Accidents of birth make us all what we are,” said Balogh stubbornly. “You can’t deny the faerie blood in her. You can’t deny she can lie. If it comes down to a war again, where will her loyalties stand?”

Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult