City of lost souls, p.53
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       City of Lost Souls, p.53
 

         Part #5 of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
Page 53

 

  She tasted blood as she reached behind her, grabbing Jaces shoulders, using his body to push off against as she kicked out with her legs. She felt the seam rip on her dress as it split up the side and her feet slammed solidly against Sebastians rib cage. He staggered back with the wind knocked out of him, just as she jerked her head back, hearing the solid crack as her skull connected with Jaces face. He yelled and loosened his grip on her enough for her to tear free. She ripped away from him and plunged into the battle without looking back.

  Maia raced along the rocky ground, starlight raking its cool fingers through her coat, the strong scents of battle assailing her sensitive nose-blood, sweat, and the burned-rubber stench of dark magic.

  The pack had spread out widely over the field, leaping and killing with deadly teeth and claws. Maia kept close to Jordans side, not because she needed his protection but because she had discovered that side by side they fought better and more effectively. She had been in only one battle before, on Brocelind Plain, and that had been a chaotic whirl of demons and Downworlders. There were many fewer combatants here on the Burren, but the dark Shadowhunters were formidable, swinging their swords and daggers with a swift, frightening force. Maia had seen one slender man use a short-bladed dagger to whip the head off a wolf whod been in midleap; what had collapsed to the ground was a headless human body, bloody and unrecognizable.

  Even as she thought it, one of the scarlet-robed Nephilim loomed up in front of them, a double-edged sword gripped in his hands. The blade was stained red-black under the moonlight. Jordan, beside Maia, snarled, but she was the one who launched herself at the man. He ducked away, slashing out with his sword. She felt a sharp pain in her shoulder and hit the ground on all four paws, pain stabbing through her. There was a clatter, and she knew she had knocked the mans sword from his hand. She growled in satisfaction and spun around, but Jordan was already leaping for the Nephilims throat-

  And the man caught him by the neck, out of the air, as if he were catching hold of a rebellious puppy. "Downworlder scum," he spat, and though it wasnt the first time Maia had heard such insults, something about the icy hatred of his tone made her shudder. "You should be a coat. I should be wearing you. "

  Maia sank her teeth into his leg. Coppery blood exploded into her mouth as the man shouted in pain and staggered back, kicking at her, his hold on Jordan slipping. Maia gripped him tight as Jordan lunged again, and this time the Shadowhunters shout of rage was cut short as the werewolfs claws tore his throat open.

  Amatis drove the knife toward Magnuss heart-just as an arrow whistled through the air and thumped into her shoulder, knocking her aside with such force that she spun halfway around and fell face-forward to the rocky ground. She was screaming, a noise quickly drowned out by the clash of weapons all around them. Isabelle knelt down by Magnuss side; Simon, glancing up, saw Alec on the stone tomb, standing frozen with the bow in his hands. He was probably too far away to see Magnus clearly; Isabelle had her hands against the warlocks chest, but Magnus-Magnus, who was always so kinetic, so bursting with energy-was utterly still under Isabelles ministrations. She looked up and saw Simon staring at them; her hands were red with blood, but she shook her head at him violently.

  "Keep going!" she shouted. "Find Sebastian!"

  With a wrench Simon turned himself around and plunged back into the battle. The tight line of red-clad Shadowhunters had started to come undone. The wolves were darting here and there, herding the Shadowhunters away from one another. Jocelyn was sword to sword with a snarling man whose free arm dripped blood-and Simon realized something bizarre as he staggered forward, pushing his way through the narrow gaps between skirmishes: None of the red-clad Nephilim were Marked. Their skin was bare of decoration.

  They were also, he realized-seeing out of the corner of his eye one of the enemy Shadowhunters lunging for Aline with a swinging mace, only to be gutted by Helen, darting in from the side-much faster than any Nephilim he had seen before, other than Jace and Sebastian. They moved with the swiftness of vampires, he thought, as one of them slashed at a leaping wolf, slitting its belly open. The dead werewolf crashed to the ground, now the corpse of a stocky man with curling fair hair. Not Maia or Jordan. Relief swamped him, and then guilt; he staggered forward, the smell of blood thick around him, and again he missed the Mark of Cain. If he had still borne it, he thought, he could have burned all these enemy Nephilim to the ground where they stood-

  One of the dark Nephilim rose up in front of him, swinging a single-edged broadsword. Simon ducked, but he didnt need to. The man was barely halfway through the swing when an arrow caught him in the neck and he went down, gurgling blood. Simons head jerked up, and he saw Alec, still atop the tomb; his face was a stony mask, and he was firing off arrows with machinelike precision, his hand reaching back mechanically to grasp one, fit it to the bow, and let fly. Each one struck a target, but Alec barely seemed to notice. By the time the arrow was flying, he was reaching for another one. Simon heard another one whistle by him and slam into a body as he darted forward, making for a cleared section of the battlefield-

  He froze. There she was. Clary, a tiny figure fighting her way through the crowd bare-handed, kicking and pushing to get past. She wore a torn red dress, and her hair was a tangled mass and when she saw him, a look of incredulous amazement crossed her face. Her lips shaped his name.

  Just behind her was Jace. His face was bloody. The crowd parted as he plunged through it, letting him by. Behind him, in the gap left by his passing, Simon could see a shimmer of red and silver-a familiar figure, topped now with white-gilt hair like Valentines.

  Sebastian. Still hiding behind the last line of defense of dark Shadowhunters. Seeing him, Simon reached over his shoulder and hauled Glorious from its sheath. A moment later a surge in the crowd hurled Clary toward him. Her eyes were nearly black with adrenaline, but her joy at seeing him was plain. Relief spilled through Simon, and he realized hed been wondering if she was still herself, or changed, as Amatis had been.

  "Give me the sword!" she cried, her voice almost drowned out by the clang of metal on metal. She thrust her arm forward to take it, and in that moment she was no longer Clary, his friend since childhood, but a Shadowhunter, an avenging angel who belonged with that sword in her hand.

  He held it out to her, hilt first.

  Battle was like a whirlpool, Jocelyn thought, cutting her way through the pressing crowd, slashing out with Lukes kindjal at any spot of red that she saw. Things came at you and then surged away so quickly that all one was really aware of was a sense of uncontrollable danger, the struggle to stay alive and not drown.

  Her eyes flicked frantically through the mass of fighters, searching for her daughter, for a glimpse of red hair-or even for a sight of Jace, because where he was, Clary would be too. There were boulders strewn across the plain, like icebergs in an unmoving sea. She scrambled up the rough edge of one, trying to get a better view of the battlefield, but she could make out only close-pressed bodies, the flash of weapons, and the dark, low-running shapes of wolves among the fighters.

  She turned to scramble back down the boulder-

  Only to find someone waiting for her at the bottom. Jocelyn came up short, staring.

  He wore scarlet robes, and there was a livid scar along one of his cheeks, a relic of some battle unknown to her. His face was pinched and no longer young, but there was no mistaking him. "Jeremy," she said slowly, her voice barely audible over the clamor of the fighting. "Jeremy Pontmercy. "

  The man who had once been the youngest member of the Circle looked at her out of bloodshot eyes. "Jocelyn Morgenstern. Have you come to join us?"

  "Join you? Jeremy, no-"

  "You were in the Circle once," he said, stepping closer to her. A long dagger with an edge like a straight razor hung from his right hand. "You were one of us. And now we follow your son. "

  "I broke with you when you followed my husband," said Jocelyn. "Why do you think Id fo
llow you now that my son leads you?"

  "Either you stand with us or against us, Jocelyn. " His face hardened. "You cannot stand against your own son. "

  "Jonathan," she said softly. "He is the greatest evil Valentine ever committed. I could never stand with him. In the end, I never stood with Valentine. So what hope do you have of convincing me now?"

  He shook his head. "You misunderstand me," he said. "I mean you cannot stand against him. Against us. The Clave cannot. They are not prepared. Not for what we can do. Are willing to do. Blood will run in the streets of every city. The world will burn. Everything you know will be destroyed. And we will rise from the ashes of your defeat, the phoenix triumphant. This is your only chance. I doubt your son will give you another. "

  "Jeremy," she said. "You were so young when Valentine recruited you. You could come back, come back even to the Clave. They would be lenient-"

  "I can never come back to the Clave," he said with a hard satisfaction. "Dont you understand? Those of us who stand with your son, we are Nephilim no longer. "

  Nephilim no longer. Jocelyn began to reply, but before she could speak, blood burst from his mouth. He crumpled, and as he did, Jocelyn saw, standing behind him bearing a broadsword, Maryse.

  The two women looked at each other for a moment over Jeremys body. Then Maryse turned and walked back toward the battle.

  The moment Clarys fingers closed around the hilt, the sword exploded with a golden light. Fire blazed down the blade from the tip, illuminating words carved blackly into the side-Quis ut Deus?-and making the hilt shine as if it contained the light of the sun. She nearly dropped it, thinking it had caught on fire, but the flame seemed contained inside the sword, and the metal was cool beneath her palms.

  Everything after that seemed to happen very slowly. She turned, the sword blazing in her grip. Her eyes searched the crowd desperately for Sebastian. She couldnt see him, but she knew he was behind the tight knot of Shadowhunters she had punched through to get here. Gripping the sword, she moved toward them, only to find her way blocked.

  By Jace.

  "Clary," he said. It seemed impossible that she could hear him; the sounds around them were deafening: screams and growls, the clatter of metal on metal. But the sea of fighting figures seemed to have fallen away from them on either side like the Red Sea parting, leaving a clear space around her and Jace.

  The sword burned, slippery in her grip. "Jace. Get out of the way. "

  She heard Simon, behind her, shout something; Jace was shaking his head. His golden eyes were flat, unreadable. His face was bloody; she had cracked her head against his cheekbone, and the skin was swelling and darkening. "Give me the sword, Clary. "

  "No. " She shook her head, backing up a step. Glorious lit the space they stood in, lit the trampled, blood-smeared grass around her, and lit Jace as he moved toward her. "Jace. I can separate you from Sebastian. I can kill him without hurting you-"

  His face twisted. His eyes were the same color as the fire in the sword, or they were reflecting it back, she wasnt sure which, and as she looked at him she realized it didnt matter. She was seeing Jace and not-Jace: her memories of him, the beautiful boy shed met first, reckless with himself and others, learning to care and be careful. She remembered the night they had spent together in Idris, holding hands across the narrow bed, and the bloodstained boy who had looked at her with haunted eyes and confessed to being a murderer in Paris. "Kill him?" Jace-who-wasnt-Jace demanded now. "Are you out of your mind?"

  And she remembered that night by Lake Lyn, Valentine driving the sword into him, and the way her own life had seemed to bleed out with his blood.

  She had watched him die, there on the beach in Idris. And afterward, when she had brought him back, he had crawled to her and looked down at her with those eyes that burned like the Sword, like the incandescent blood of an angel.

  I was in the dark, he had said. There was nothing there but shadows, and I was a shadow. And then I heard your voice.

  But that voice blurred into another, more recent one: Jace facing down Sebastian in the living room of Valentines apartment, telling her that he would rather die than live like this. She could hear him now, speaking, telling her to give him the sword, that if she didnt, he would take it from her. His voice was harsh, impatient, the voice of someone talking to a child. And she knew in that moment that just as he wasnt Jace, the Clary he loved wasnt her. It was a memory of her, blurred and distorted: the image of someone docile, obedient; someone who didnt understand that love given without free will or truthfulness wasnt love at all.

  "Give me the sword. " His hand was out, his chin raised, his tone imperious. "Give it to me, Clary. "

  "You want it?"

  She raised Glorious, the way he had taught her to, balancing the weight of it, though it felt heavy in her hand. The flame in it grew brighter, until it seemed to reach upward and touch the stars. Jace was only the swords length away from her, his golden eyes incredulous. Even now he couldnt believe she might hurt him, really hurt him. Even now.

  She took a deep breath. "Take it. "

  She saw his eyes blaze up the way they had that day by the lake, and then she drove the sword into him, just as Valentine had done. She understood now that this was the way it had to be. He had died like this, and she had ripped him back from death. And now it had come again.

  You cannot cheat death. In the end it will have its own.

  Glorious sank into his chest, and she felt her bloody hand slide on the hilt as the blade ground against the bones of his rib cage, driving through him until her fist thumped against his body and she froze. He hadnt moved, and she was pressed up against him now, gripping Glorious as blood began to spill from the wound in his chest.

  There was a scream-a sound of rage and pain and terror, the sound of someone being brutally torn apart. Sebastian, Clary thought. Sebastian, screaming as his bond with Jace was severed.

 
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