City of lost souls, p.46
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       City of Lost Souls, p.46
 

         Part #5 of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
Page 46

 

  "Jonathan!" she screamed. "Jonathan Christopher Morgenstern!"

  Jaces eyes widened into circles. "Clary-" he began, but it was too late already. She had let go of him and was backing away. Sebastian might already be coming; there was no way to tell Jace that it wasnt that she trusted Sebastian but that Sebastian was the only weapon she had at her disposal that could possibly make him stay.

  There was a flash of movement, and Sebastian was there. He hadnt bothered with running down the stairs, just flipped himself over the side and landed between them. His hair was sleep-mussed; he wore a dark T-shirt and black pants, and Clary wondered distractedly if he slept in his clothes. He glanced between Clary and Jace, his black eyes taking in the situation. "Lovers spat?" he inquired. Something glinted in his hand. A knife?

  Clarys voice shook. "His runes damaged. Here. " She put her hand over her heart. "Hes trying to go back, to give himself up to the Clave-"

  Sebastians hand shot out and grabbed the Cup out of Jaces hand. He slammed it down on the kitchen counter. Jace, still white with shock, watched him; he didnt move a muscle as Sebastian stepped close and took Jace by the front of the shirt. The top buttons on the shirt popped open, baring his collar, and Sebastian slashed the point of his stele across it, gashing an iratze into the skin. Jace bit down on his lip, his eyes full of hatred as Sebastian released him and took a step back, stele in hand.

  "Honestly, Jace," he said. "The idea that you thought you could get away with something like this just knocks me out. "

  Jaces hands tightened into fists as the iratze, black as charcoal, began to sink into his skin. His words were eked out, breathless: "Next time. . . you want to be knocked out. . . Id be happy to help you. Maybe with a brick. "

  Sebastian made a tsk noise. "Youll thank me later. Even you have to admit this death wish of yours is a little extreme. "

  Clary expected Jace to snap back at him again. But he didnt. His gaze traveled slowly across Sebastians face. For that moment there was only the two of them in the room, and when Jace spoke, his words came cold and clear. "I wont remember this later," he said. "But you will. That person who acts like your friend-" He took a step forward, closing the space between himself and Sebastian. "That person who acts like they like you. That person isnt real. This is real. This is me. And I hate you. I will always hate you. And there is no magic and no spell in this world or any other that will ever change that. "

  For a moment the grin on Sebastians face wavered. But Jace didnt. Instead, he tore his gaze from Sebastian and looked at Clary. "I need you to know," he said, "the truth-I didnt tell you all the truth. "

  "The truth is dangerous," said Sebastian, holding the stele before him like a knife. "Be careful what you say. "

  Jace winced. His chest was rising and falling rapidly; it was clear that the healing of the rune on his chest was causing him physical pain. "The plan," he said. "To raise Lilith, to make a new Cup, to create a dark army-that wasnt Sebastians plan. It was mine. "

  Clary froze. "What?"

  "Sebastian knew what he wanted," said Jace. "But I figured out how he could do it. A new Mortal Cup-I gave him that idea. " He jerked in pain; she could imagine what was happening under the cloth of his shirt: the skin knitting together, healing, Liliths rune whole and shining once again. "Or, should I say, he did. That thing that looks like me but isnt? Hell burn down the world if Sebastian wants him to, and laugh while hes doing it. Thats what youre saving, Clary. That. Dont you understand? Id rather be dead-"

  His voice choked off as he doubled over. The muscles in his shoulders tightened as ripples of what looked like pain went through him. Clary remembered holding him in the Silent City as the Brothers rooted through his mind for answers-Now he looked up, his expression bewildered.

  His eyes shifted first not to her but to Sebastian. She felt her heart plummet, though she knew this was only her own doing.

  "Whats going on?" Jace said.

  Sebastian grinned at him. "Welcome back. "

  Jace blinked, looking momentarily confused-and then his gaze seemed to slide inward, the way it did whenever Clary tried to bring up something that he couldnt process-Maxs murder, the war in Alicante, the pain he was causing his family.

  "Is it time?" he said.

  Sebastian made a show of looking at his watch. "Just about. Why dont you go on ahead and well follow? You can start getting things ready. "

  Jace glanced around. "The Cup-where is it?"

  Sebastian took it off the kitchen counter. "Right here. Feeling a little absentminded?"

  Jaces mouth curled at the corner, and he grabbed the Cup back. Good-naturedly. There was no sign of the boy who had stood in front of Sebastian moments ago and told him he hated him. "All right. Ill meet you there. " He turned to Clary, who was still frozen in shock, and kissed her cheek. "And you. "

  He drew back and winked at her. There was affection in his eyes, but it didnt matter. This was not her Jace, very clearly not her Jace, and she watched numbly as he crossed the room. His stele flashed, and a door opened in the wall; she caught a glimpse of sky and rocky plain, and then he stepped through it and was gone.

  She dug her nails into her palms.

  That thing that looks like me but isnt? Hell burn down the world if Sebastian wants him to, and laugh while hes doing it. Thats what youre saving, Clary. That. Dont you understand? Id rather be dead.

  Tears burned at the back of her throat, and it was all she could do to hold them off as her brother turned to her, his black eyes very bright. "You called for me," he said.

  "He wanted to give himself up to the Clave," she whispered, not sure who she was defending herself to. She had done what shed had to, used the only weapon at hand, even if it was one she despised. "They would have killed him. "

  "You called for me," he said again, and took a step toward her. He reached out and lifted a long lock of her hair away from her face, tucking it back behind her ear. "He told you, then? The plan? All of it?"

  She fought back a shiver of revulsion. "Not all of it. I dont know whats happening tonight. What did Jace mean Its time?"

  He leaned down and kissed her forehead; she felt the kiss burn, like a brand between her eyes. "Youll find out," he said. "Youve earned the right to be there, Clarissa. You can watch it all from your place at my side, tonight, at the Seventh Sacred Site. Both of Valentines children, together. . . at last. "

  Simon kept his eyes on the paper, chanting out the words Magnus had written for him. They had a rhythm to them that was like music, light and sharp and fine. He was reminded of reading aloud his haftarah portion during his bar mitzvah, though he had known what the words meant then, and now he didnt.

  As the chant went on, he felt a tightening around him, as if the air were becoming denser and heavier. It pressed down on his chest and shoulders. The air was growing warmer as well. If he were human, the heat might have been unbearable. As it was, he could feel the burn of it on his skin, singeing his eyelashes, his shirt. He kept his eyes fixed on the paper in front of him as a bead of blood ran from his hairline to drip onto the paper.

  And then he was done. The last of the words-"Raziel"-was spoken, and he lifted his head. He could feel blood running down his face. The haze around him had cleared, and in front of him he saw the water of the lake, blue and sparkling, as untroubled as glass.

  And then it exploded.

  The center of the lake turned gold, then black. Water rushed away from it, pouring toward the edges of the lake, flying into the air until Simon was staring at a ring of water, like a circle of unbroken waterfalls, all shimmering and pouring upward and downward, the effect bizarre and strangely beautiful. Water droplets shivered down onto him, cooling his burning skin. He tipped his head back, just as the sky went black-all the blue of it gone, eaten up in a sudden shock of darkness and clamoring gray clouds. The water splashed back down into the lake, and from its center, the greatest density of its silver, rose a figure all of gold.
<
br />   Simons mouth went dry. He had seen countless paintings of angels, believed in them, had heard Magnuss warning. And still he felt as if he had been struck through with a spear as before him a pair of wings unfolded. They seemed to span the sky. They were vast, white and gold and silver, the feathers of them set with burning golden eyes. The eyes regarded him with scorn. Then the wings lifted, scattering clouds before them, and folded back, and a man-or the shape of a man, towering and many stories tall, unfolded itself and rose.

  Simons teeth had started to chatter. He wasnt sure why. But waves of power, of something more than power-of the elemental force of the universe-seemed to roll off the Angel as he rose to his full height. Simons first and rather bizarre thought was that it looked as if someone had taken Jace and blown him up to the size of a billboard. Only he didnt quite look like Jace at all. He was gold all over, from his wings to his skin to his eyes, which had no whites at all, only a sheen of gold like a membrane. His hair was gold and looked cut from pieces of metal that curled like wrought ironwork. He was alien and terrifying. Too much of anything could destroy you, Simon thought. Too much darkness could kill, but too much light could blind.

  Who dares to summon me? The Angel spoke in Simons mind, in a voice like great bells sounding.

  Tricky question, Simon thought. If he were Jace, he could say "one of the Nephilim," and if he were Magnus, he could say he was one of Liliths children and a High Warlock. Clary and the Angel had already met, so he supposed theyd just chum it up. But he was Simon, without any titles to his name or any great deeds in his past. "Simon Lewis," he said finally, setting the spell book down and straightening up. "Nights Child, and. . . your servant. "

  My servant? Raziels voice was frozen with icy disapproval. You summon me like a dog and dare to call yourself my servant? You shall be blasted from this world, that your fate may serve as a warning to others not to do likewise. It is forbidden for my own Nephilim to summon me. Why should it be different for you, Daylighter?

  Simon supposed he should not be shocked that the Angel knew what he was, but it was startling nevertheless, as startling as the Angels size. Somehow he had thought Raziel would be more human. "I-"

  Do you think because you carry the blood of one of my descendants, I must show you mercy? If so, you have gambled and lost. The mercy of Heaven is for the deserving. Not for those who break our Covenant Laws.

  The Angel raised a hand, his finger pointed directly at Simon.

  Simon braced himself. This time he did not try to say the words, only thought them. Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one-

  What Mark is that? Raziels voice was confounded. On your forehead, child.

  "It is the Mark," Simon stammered. "The first Mark. The Mark of Cain. "

  Raziels great arm lowered slowly. I would kill you, but the Mark prevents it. That Mark was meant to be set between your brows by Heavens hand, yet I know it was not. How can this be?

  The Angels obvious bafflement emboldened Simon. "One of your children, the Nephilim," he said. "One especially gifted. She set it there, to protect me. " He took a step closer to the edge of the circle. "Raziel, I came to ask a favor of you, in the name of those Nephilim. They face a grave danger. One of their own has-has been turned to darkness, and he threatens all the rest. They need your help. "

  I do not intervene.

  "But you did intervene," Simon said. "When Jace was dead, you brought him back. Not that were not all really happy about that, but if you hadnt, none of this would be happening. So in a way it rests on you to set it right. "

  I may not be able to kill you, Raziel mused. But there is no reason I should give you what you want.

  "I havent even said what I want," said Simon.

  You want a weapon. Something that can sever Jonathan Morgenstern from Jonathan Herondale. You would kill the one and preserve the other. Easiest of course to simply kill both. Your Jonathan was dead, and perhaps death longs for him still, and he for it. Has that ever crossed your mind?

  "No," said Simon. "I know were not much compared to you, but we dont kill our friends. We try to save them. If Heaven didnt want it that way, we ought never have been given the ability to love. " He shoved his hair back, baring the Mark more fully. "No, you dont need to help me. But if you dont, theres nothing stopping me from calling you up again and again, now that I know you cant kill me. Think of it as me leaning against your Heavenly doorbell. . . forever. "

  Raziel, incredibly, seemed to chuckle at that. You are stubborn, he said. A veritable warrior of your people, like him whose name you bear, Simon Maccabeus. And as he gave everything for his brother Jonathan, so shall you give everything for your Jonathan. Or are you not willing?

  "Its not just for him," said Simon, a little dazed. "But, yes, whatever you want. I will give it to you. "

  If I give you what you want, will you also vow never to bother me again?

  "I dont think," said Simon, "that that will be a problem. "

  Very well, said the Angel. I will tell you what I desire. I desire that blasphemous Mark on your forehead. I would take the Mark of Cain from you, for it was never your place to carry it.

  "I-but if you take the Mark, then you can kill me," Simon said. "Isnt it the only thing standing between me and your Heavenly wrath?"

  The Angel paused to consider for a moment. I shall swear not to harm you. Whether you bear the Mark or not.

  Simon hesitated. The Angels expression turned thunderous. The vow of an Angel of Heaven is the most sacred there is. Do you dare to distrust me, Downworlder?

  "I. . . " Simon paused for an excruciating moment. His eyes were filled with the memory of Clary standing on her tiptoes as she pressed the stele to his forehead; the first time he had seen the Mark work, when he had felt like the conductor for a lightning bolt, sheer energy passing through him with deadly force. It was a curse, one that had terrified him and made him an object of desire and fear. He had hated it. And yet now, faced with giving it up, the thing that made him special. . .

 
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