Clockwork angel, p.59
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       Clockwork Angel, p.59

         Part #1 of The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare
 
Page 59

 

  “But Mortmain is not the only one who ever pointed the finger at de Quincey,” said Jem, and his voice was heavy. “Nathaniel Gray, Will. Tessa’s brother. When two people tell the same lie …”

  “They are working together,” Will finished. He felt, for a moment, something almost like satisfaction, which quickly faded. He had disliked Nate Gray, had hated the way Tessa had treated him as if he could do no wrong, and then he’d despised himself for his own jealousy. To know that he had been correct about Nate’s character was one thing, but at what price?

  Mrs. Dark laughed, a high, whining sound. “Nate Gray,” she spat. “The Magister’s little human lapdog. He sold his sister to Mortmain, you know. Just for a handful of silver, he did it. Just for a few sops to his vanity. I would never have treated my own sister so. And you say it is demons who are evil, and the humans who need protecting from us!” Her voice rose to a cackle.

  Will ignored her; his mind was whirling. Dear God, that whole story of Nathaniel’s about de Quincey had been a trick, a lie to set the Clave off on a false track. Then why have Mortmain appear as soon as they had gone? To get rid of us, Jem and I, Will thought grimly. Nate couldn’t have known we two wouldn’t be going with Charlotte and Henry. He had to improvise something quickly when we stayed behind. Thus Mortmain and this extra trickery. Nate had been in it with Mortmain since the beginning.

  And now Tessa is in the Institute with him. Will felt sick to his stomach. He wanted to turn and run out the door, race back to the Institute, and beat Nathaniel’s head against a wall. Only years of training, and fear for Henry and Charlotte, kept him where he was.

  Will whirled on Mrs. Dark. “What is his plan? What will the Enclave find when they reach Carleton Square? Certain slaughter? Answer me!” he shouted. Fear made his voice crack. “Or by the Angel, I will make sure that the Clave tortures you before you die. What is his plan for them?”

  Mrs. Dark’s yellow eyes flashed. “What does the Magister care about?” she hissed. “What has he ever cared about? He despises the Nephilim, but what is it that he wants?”

  “Tessa,” said Jem immediately. “But she is safe in the Institute, and even his blasted clockwork army can’t break inside. Even without us there—”

  In a wheedling voice Mrs. Dark said, “Once, when I was in the Magister’s confidence, he spoke to me of a plan he had to invade the Institute. He planned to paint the hands of his mechanical creatures with the blood of a Shadowhunter, thus allowing him to open the doors. ”

  “The blood of a Shadowhunter?” Will echoed. “But—”

  “Will. ” Jem had his hand at his chest, where the clockwork creature had torn the skin that night on the steps of the Institute. “My blood. ”

  For a moment Will stood perfectly still, staring at his friend. Then, without a word, he turned and raced for the dining room doors; Jem, pausing only to seize the cat’s cage, followed. As they reached them, the doors slammed shut as if pushed, and Will came to a skidding halt. He spun to see Jem behind him, looking baffled.

  In her pentagram Mrs. Dark was howling with laughter. “Nephilim,” she gasped between peals. “Stupid, stupid Nephilim. Where is your angel now?”

  As they stared, enormous flames leaped up around the walls, licking up the curtains covering the windows, shimmering along the edges of the floor. The flames burned with a weird blue-green color, and the smell was thick and ugly—a demon smell. Inside its cage the cat was going wild, throwing itself against the bars again and again and howling.

  Will drew a second seraph blade from his belt and cried, “Anael!” Light burst from the blade, but Mrs. Dark only laughed.

  “When the Magister sees your charred corpses,” she cried, “then he will forgive me! Then he will welcome me back!”

  Her laughter rose, high and horrible. Already the room was dim with smoke. Jem, raising his sleeve to cover his mouth, said to Will in a choking voice, “Kill her. Kill her, and the fire will die. ”

  Will, his grip tight on the hilt of Anael, growled, “Don’t you think I would if I could? She’s in the pentagram. ”

  “I know. ” Jem’s eyes were full of meaning. “Will, cut it down. ”

  Because it was Jem, Will knew what he meant immediately, without being told explicitly. Spinning to face the pentagram, he raised the shining Anael, took aim, and flung the blade—not toward the demon but up toward the thick metal chain that supported the massive chandelier. The blade sheared through the chain like a knife through paper, there was a rending sound, and the demon had time only to scream once before the massive chandelier descended, a crashing comet of twisting metal and shattering glass. Will threw his arm across his eyes as debris rained over them all—smashed bits of stone, fragments of crystal, and chunks of rust. The floor shook underneath him as if the earth were quaking.

  When all was quiet at last, he opened his eyes. The chandelier lay like the wreck of some immense ship twisted and destroyed at the bottom of the sea. Dust rose like smoke from the wreckage, and from one corner of the pile of smashed glass and metal a trickle of greenish black blood threaded across the marble… .

  Jem had been right. The flames were gone. Jem himself, still gripping the handle of the cat’s cage, was gazing at the wreckage. His already pale hair had whitened further with plaster dust, and his cheeks were streaked with ash. “Nicely done, William,” he said.

  Will did not reply; there was no time for it. Throwing the doors—which opened easily under his hands now—wide, he raced out of the room.

  Tessa and Sophie flew up the Institute’s steps together until Sophie gasped, “Here! This door!” and Tessa flung it open and burst into the corridor beyond. Sophie pulled her wrist out of Tessa’s grasp and spun to slam the door shut behind them and slide the bolt closed. She leaned against it for a moment, breathing hard, her face streaked with tears.

  “Miss Jessamine,” she whispered. “Do you think—”

  “I don’t know,” Tessa said. “But you heard Thomas. We must get to the Sanctuary, Sophie. It’s where we’ll be safe. ” And Thomas wants me to make sure you stay safe. “You’re going to have to show me where it is. I can’t find my way there by myself. ”

  Slowly Sophie nodded and drew herself upright. In silence she led Tessa through a winding mass of corridors until they reached the one corridor she remembered from the night when she had met Camille. After taking a lamp from a holder on the wall, Sophie lit it, and they hurried on, until they finally reached the great iron doors with their pattern of Cs. Brought up sharply in front of the doors, Sophie put a hand to her mouth. “The key!” she whispered. “I’ve forgotten the bloody—pardon me, miss—key!”

  Tessa felt a wave of frustrated anger, but pushed it back. Sophie had just had a friend die in her arms; she could hardly be blamed for forgetting a key. “But you know where Charlotte keeps it?”

  Sophie nodded. “I’ll run and fetch it. You wait here, miss. ”

  She hurried off down the corridor. Tessa watched her go until her white cap and sleeves faded into the shadows, leaving Tessa alone in the darkness. The only light in the corridor came from the illumination that seeped beneath the doors to the Sanctuary. She pressed herself back against the wall as the shadows gathered thickly around her, as if she could disappear into the wall. She kept seeing the blood pouring out of Agatha’s chest, staining Sophie’s hands; kept hearing the brittle sound of Nate’s laugher as Jessamine collapsed—

  It came again, harsh and as brittle as glass, echoing out of the darkness behind her.

  Sure she was imagining things, Tessa whirled, her back toward the Sanctuary doors. Before her in the hallway, where a moment before there had been empty air, someone was standing. Someone with fair hair and a grin plastered across his face. Someone carrying a long, thin knife in his right hand.

  Nate.

  “My Tessie,” he said. “That was very impressive. I wouldn’t have thought either you or the servant could run that fast. ” He twir
led the knife between his fingers. “Unfortunately for you, my master has gifted me with certain … powers. I can move faster than you can think. ” He smirked. “Probably much faster, to judge by how long it took you to catch on to what was going on downstairs. ”

  “Nate. ” Tessa’s voice shook. “It’s not too late. You can stop this. ”

  “Stop what?” Nate looked directly at her, for the first time since he had knelt to Mortmain. “Stop acquiring incredible power and immense knowledge? Stop being the favored acolyte of the most powerful man in London? I’d be a fool to stop all this, little sister. ”

  “Favored acolyte? Where was he when de Quincey was about to drain your blood?”

  “I had disappointed him,” Nate said. “You disappointed him. You ran from the Dark Sisters, knowing what it would cost me. Your sisterly affection leaves something to be desired, Tessie. ”

  “I let the Dark Sisters torture me for your sake, Nate. I did everything for you. And you—you let me believe de Quincey was the Magister. All the things you claimed de Quincey did were done by Mortmain, weren’t they? He’s the one who wanted me brought here. He’s the one who employed the Dark Sisters. All that rubbish about de Quincey was just to lure the Enclave away from the Institute. ”

  Nate smirked. “What was it Aunt Harriet used to say, that cleverness that comes too late is hardly cleverness at all?”

  “And what will the Enclave find when they go to the address you claimed was de Quincey’s nest? Nothing? An empty house, a burned-out ruin?” She began to retreat from him, until her back struck the cold iron doors.

  Nate followed, his eyes gleaming like the blade in his hand. “Oh, dear me, no. That bit was true. It wouldn’t do to have the Enclave realize so soon that they’d been made fools of, would it? Better to keep them busy, and cleaning out de Quincey’s little hiding place will keep them quite busy indeed. ” He shrugged. “You’re the one who gave me the idea to let the blame for everything fall on the vampire, you know. After what happened the other night, he was a dead man, anyway. The Nephilim had their sights set on him, which made him useless to Mortmain. Sending the Enclave off to get rid of him and Will and Jem off to rid my master of that pestiferous Mrs. Dark—well, it’s three birds with one stone, really, isn’t it? And quite a clever plan of mine, if I do say so myself. ”

  He was preening, Tessa thought in disgust. Proud of himself. Most of her wanted to spit in his face, but she knew she should keep him talking, give herself a chance to think of a way out of the situation. “You certainly fooled us,” she said, hating herself. “How much of that story you told was the truth? How much was lies?”

  “Quite a bit was the truth, if you really want to know. The best lies are based on the truth, at least in part,” he bragged. “I came to London thinking I was going to blackmail Mortmain with my knowledge of his occult activities. The fact was, he couldn’t have cared less about that. He wanted to get a look at me because he wasn’t sure, you see. Wasn’t sure if I was our parents’ first child or their second. He thought I might be you. ” He grinned. “He was as pleased as punch when he realized I wasn’t the child he was looking for. He wanted a girl, you see. ”

 

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