City of lost souls, p.25
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       City of Lost Souls, p.25
 

         Part #5 of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
Page 25

 

  "I-," Praetor Scott began, his eyes flicking to Jordan.

  "She should take it," said Jordan. "Shes close to Garroway and is part of the pack. They trust her. "

  "Are you saying they dont trust the Praetor?"

  "Half of them think the Praetor is a fairy tale," Maia said, adding "sir" as an afterthought.

  Praetor Scott looked annoyed, but before he could say anything, the phone on his desk rang. He seemed to hesitate, then lifted the receiver to his ear. "Scott here," he said, and then, after a moment, "Yes-yes, I think so. " He hung up, his mouth curving into a not entirely pleasant smile. "Praetor Kyle," he said. "Im glad you dropped in on us today of all days. Stay a moment. This matter somewhat concerns you. "

  Maia was startled at this pronouncement, but not as startled as she was a moment later when a corner of the room began to shimmer and a figure appeared, slowly developing-it was like watching images appear on film in a darkroom-and the figure of a young boy took shape. His hair was dark brown, short and straight, and a gold necklace gleamed against the brown skin of his throat. He looked slight and ethereal, like a choirboy, but there was something in his eyes that made him seem much older than that.

  "Raphael," she said, recognizing him. He was ever so slightly transparent-a Projection, she realized. Shed heard of them but had never seen one up close.

  Praetor Scott looked at her in surprise. "You know the head of the New York vampire clan?"

  "We met once, in Brocelind Woods," said Raphael, looking her over without much interest. "She is a friend of the Daylighter, Simon. "

  "Your assignment," Praetor Scott said to Jordan, as if Jordan could have forgotten.

  Jordans forehead creased. "Has something happened to him?" he asked. "Is he all right?"

  "This is not about him," said Raphael. "It is about the rogue vampire, Maureen Brown. "

  "Maureen?" Maia exclaimed. "But shes only, what, thirteen?"

  "A rogue vampire is a rogue vampire," said Raphael. "And Maureen has been cutting quite a swath for herself through TriBeCa and the Lower East Side. Multiple injured and at least six kills. Weve managed to cover them up, but. . . "

  "Shes Nicks assignment," said Praetor Scott with a frown. "But he hasnt been able to find a trace of her. We may need to send in someone with more experience. "

  "I urge you to do so," said Raphael. "If the Shadowhunters were not so concerned with their own. . . emergency at this juncture, they would surely have involved themselves by now. And the last thing the clan needs after the affair with Camille is a censuring by the Shadowhunters. "

  "I take it Camille is still missing as well?" said Jordan. "Simon told us everything that happened the night Jace disappeared, and Maureen seemed to be doing Camilles bidding. "

  "Camille is not new-made and is therefore not our concern," said Scott.

  "I know, but-find her, and you may find Maureen, thats all Im saying," said Jordan.

  "If she were with Camille, she would not be killing at the rate she is," said Raphael. "Camille would prevent her. She is bloodthirsty but she knows the Conclave, and the Law. She would keep Maureen and her activities out of their line of sight. No, Maureens behavior has all the hallmarks of a vampire gone feral. "

  "Then, I think youre right. " Jordan sat back. "Nick should have backup in dealing with her, or-"

  "Or something might happen to him? If it does, perhaps it will help you focus more in future," said Praetor Scott. "On your own assignment. "

  Jordans mouth opened. "Simon wasnt responsible for Turning Maureen," he said. "I told you-"

  Praetor Scott waved away his words. "Yes, I know," he said, "or you would have been pulled from your assignment, Kyle. But your subject did bite her, and under your watch as well. And it was her association with the Daylighter, however distant, that led to her eventual Turning. "

  "The Daylighter is dangerous," said Raphael, his eyes shining. "It is what I have been saying all along. "

  "He is not dangerous," Maia said fiercely. "He has a good heart. " She saw Jordan glance at her a little, sidelong, so quickly that she wondered if shed imagined it.

  "Yap, yap, yap," said Raphael dismissively. "You werewolves cannot focus on the matter at hand. I trusted you, Praetor, for new-fledged Downworlders are your department. But allowing Maureen to run wild reflects badly on my clan. If you do not find her soon, I will call up every vampire at my disposal. After all"-he smiled, and his delicate incisors shone-"in the end she is ours to kill. "

  When the meal was over, Clary and Jace walked back to the apartment through a mist-shrouded evening. The streets were deserted and the canal water shone like glass. Rounding a corner, they found themselves beside a quiet canal, lined with shuttered houses. Boats bobbed gently on the curving water, each a half-moon of black.

  Jace laughed softly and moved forward, his hand pulling out of Clarys. His eyes were wide and golden in the lamplight. He knelt by the side of the canal, and she saw a flash of white-silver-a stele-and then one of the boats sprang free of its mooring chain and began to drift toward the center of the canal. Jace slid the stele back into his belt and leaped, landing lightly on the wooden seat at the front of the boat. He held his hand out to Clary. "Come on. "

  She looked from him to the boat and shook her head. It was only a little bigger than a canoe, painted black, though the paint was damp and splintering. It looked as light and fragile as a toy. She imagined upending it and both of them being dumped into the ice-green canal. "I cant. Ill knock it over. "

  Jace shook his head impatiently. "You can do it," he said. "I trained you. " To demonstrate he took a step back. Now he was standing on the thin edge of the boat, just beside the oarlock. He looked at her, his mouth crooked in a half smile. By all the laws of physics, she thought, the boat, unbalanced, ought to have been toppling sideways into the water. But Jace balanced lightly there, back straight, as if he were made of nothing more than smoke. Behind him was the backdrop of water and stone, canal and bridges, not a single modern edifice in sight. With his bright hair and the way he carried himself, he could have been some Renaissance prince.

  He held out a hand to her again. "Remember. Youre as light as you want to be. "

  She remembered. Hours of training in how to fall, to balance, how to land like Jace did, as if you were a piece of ash sifting gently downward. She sucked her breath in and leaped, the green water flying by beneath her. She alighted in the bow of the boat, wobbling on the wooden seat, but steady.

  She let out her breath in a whoosh of relief and heard Jace laugh as he leaped down to the flat bottom of the boat. It was leaky. A thin layer of water covered the wood. He was also nine inches taller than she was, so that with her standing on the seat in the bow, their heads were on a level.

  He put his hands on her waist. "So," he said. "Where do you want to go now?"

  She looked around. They had drifted far away from the bank of the canal. "Are we stealing this boat?"

  "Stealing is such an ugly word," he mused.

  "What do you want to call it?"

  He picked her up and swung her around before putting her down. "An extreme case of window-shopping. "

  He pulled her closer, and she stiffened. Her feet skidded out from under her, and the two of them slid to the curved floor of the boat, which was flat and damp and smelled like water and wet wood.

  Clary found herself resting on top of Jace, her knees on either side of his hips. Water was soaking into his shirt, but he didnt seem to mind. He threw his hands behind his head, folding them, his shirt pulling up. "You literally knocked me down with the strength of your passion," he observed. "Nice work, Fray. "

  "You only fell because you wanted to. I know you," she said. The moon shone down on them like a spotlight, like they were the only people under it. "You never slip. "

  He touched her face. "I may not slip," he said, "but I fall. "

  Her heart pounded, and she had to swallow before she could reply lightly, as i
f he were joking. "That may be your worst line of all time. "

  "Who says its a line?"

  The boat rocked, and she leaned forward, balancing her hands on his chest. Her hips pressed against his, and she watched his eyes as they widened, going from wickedly sparkling gold to dark, the pupil swallowing the iris. She could see herself and the night sky in them.

  He propped himself up on one elbow, and slipped a hand around the back of her neck. She felt him arch up against her, lips brushing hers, but she drew back, not quite allowing the kiss. She wanted him, wanted him so much she felt hollow on the inside, as if desire had burned her clean through. No matter what her mind said-that this was not Jace, not her Jace, still her body remembered him, the shape and feel of him, the scent of his skin and hair, and wanted him back.

  She smiled against his mouth as if she were teasing him, and rolled to the side, curling next to him in the wet bottom of the boat. He didnt protest. His arm curved around her, and the rocking of the boat beneath them was gentle and lulling. She wanted to put her head on his shoulder, but didnt.

  "Were drifting," she said.

  "I know. Theres something I want you to see. " Jace was looking up at the sky. The moon was a great white billow, like a sail; Jaces chest rose and fell steadily. His fingers tangled in her hair. She lay still beside him, waiting and watching as the stars ticked by like an astrological clock, and she wondered what they were waiting for. At last she heard it, a long slow rushing noise, like water pouring through a broken dam. The sky darkened and churned as figures rushed across it. She could barely make them out through the clouds and the distance, but they seemed to be men, with long hair like cirrus clouds, riding horses whose hooves gleamed the color of blood. The sound of a hunting horn echoed across the night, and the stars shivered and the night folded in on itself as the men vanished behind the moon.

  She let her breath out in a slow exhalation. "What was that?"

  "The Wild Hunt," said Jace. His voice sounded distant and dreamlike. "Gabriels Hounds. The Wild Host. They have many names. They are faeries who disdain the earthly Courts. They ride across the sky, pursuing an eternal hunt. On one night a year a mortal can join them-but once youve joined the Hunt, you can never leave it. "

  "Why would anyone want to do that?"

  Jace rolled and was suddenly on top of Clary, pressing her down into the bottom of the boat. She hardly noticed the damp; she could feel heat rolling off him in waves, and his eyes burned. He had a way of propping himself over her so that she wasnt crushed but she could feel every part of him against her-the shape of his hips, the rivets in his jeans, the tracings of his scars. "Theres something appealing about the idea," he said. "Of losing all your control. Dont you think?"

  She opened her mouth to answer, but he was already kissing her. She had kissed him so many times-soft gentle kisses, hard and desperate ones, brief brushes of the lips that said good-bye, and kisses that seemed to go on for hours-and this was no different. The way the memory of someone who had once lived in a house might linger even after they were gone, like a sort of psychic imprint, her body remembered Jace. Remembered the way he tasted, the slant of his mouth over hers, his scars under her fingers, the shape of his body under her hands. She let go of her doubts and reached up to pull him toward her.

  He rolled sideways, holding her, the boat rocking underneath them. Clary could hear the splash of water as his hands drifted down her side to her waist, his fingers lightly stroking the sensitive skin at the small of her back. She slid her hands into his hair and closed her eyes, wrapped in mist, the sound and smell of water. Endless ages went by, and there was only Jaces mouth on hers, the lulling motion of the boat, his hands on her skin. Finally, after what could have been hours or minutes, she heard the sound of someone shouting, an angry Italian voice, rising and cutting through the night.

  Jace drew back, his look lazy and regretful. "Wed better go. "

  Clary looked up at him, dazed. "Why?"

  "Because thats the guy whose boat we stole. " Jace sat up, tugging his shirt down. "And hes about to call the police. "

  Chapter 11: Ascribe All Sin

  Magnus said that no electricity could be used during the summoning of Azazel, so the loft apartment was lit only by candlelight. The candles burned in a circle in the center of the room, all different heights and brightness, though they shared a similar blue-white flame.

  Inside the circle, a pentagram had been drawn by Magnus, using a rowan stick that had burned the pattern of overlapping triangles into the floor. In between the spaces formed by the pentagram were symbols unlike anything Simon had seen before: not quite letters and not quite runes, they gave off a chilly sense of menace despite the heat of the candle flames.

  It was dark outside the windows now, the sort of dark that came with the early sunsets of approaching winter. Isabelle, Alec, Simon, and finally, Magnus-who was chanting aloud from Forbidden Rites-each stood at one cardinal point around the circle. Magnuss voice rose and fell, the Latin words like a prayer, but one that was inverted and sinister.

  The flames rose higher and the symbols carved into the floor began to burn black. Chairman Meow, who had been watching from a corner of the room, hissed and fled into the shadows. The blue-white flames rose, and now Simon could hardly see Magnus through them. The room was getting hotter, the warlock chanting faster, his black hair curling in the humid heat, sweat gleaming on his cheekbones. "Quod tumeraris: per Jehovam, Gehennam, et consecratam aquam quam nunc spargo, signumque crucis quod nunc facio, et per vota nostra, ipse nunc surgat nobis dicatus Azazel!"

  There was a burst of fire from the center of the pentagram, and a thick black wave of smoke rose, dissipating slowly through the room, making everyone but Simon cough and choke. It swirled like a whirlpool, coalescing slowly in the center of the pentagram into the figure of a man.

 
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