City of lost souls, p.51
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       City of Lost Souls, p.51

         Part #5 of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
 
Page 51

 

  "Worse?" said Alec. "What are we talking about here? Exile?"

  "I dont know, Alexander," said his mother. "It would be up to Jia Penhallow, and whoever wins the Inquisitors position, to decide our punishment. "

  "Maybe itll be Dad," muttered Izzy. "Maybe hell go easy on us. "

  "If we fail to notify them of this situation, Isabelle, there is no chance your father will make Inquisitor. None," said Maryse.

  Isabelle took a deep breath. "Could we get our Marks stripped?" she said. "Could we. . . lose the Institute?"

  "Isabelle," said Maryse. "We could lose everything. "

  Clary blinked, her eyes adjusting to the darkness. She stood on a rocky plain, whipped by wind, with nothing to break the force of the gale. Patches of grass grew up between slabs of gray rock. In the far distance bleak, scree-covered karst hills rose, black and iron against the night sky. There were lights up ahead. Clary recognized the bobbing white glare of witchlight as the door of the apartment swung shut behind them.

  There was the sound of a dull explosion. Clary whirled around to see that the door had vanished; there was a charred patch of dirt and grass, still smoldering, where it had been. Sebastian was staring at it in absolute astonishment. "What-"

  She laughed. A dark glee rose in her at the look on his face. She had never seen him shocked like that, his pretenses gone, his expression naked and horrified.

  He swung the crossbow back up, inches from her chest. If he fired it at this distance, the bolt would tear through her heart, killing her instantly. "What have you done?"

  Clary gazed at him with dark triumph. "That rune. The one you thought was an unfinished Opening rune. It wasnt. It just wasnt anything youd ever seen before. It was a rune I created. "

  "A rune for what?"

  She remembered putting the stele to the wall, the shape of the rune she had invented on the night when Jace had come to her at Lukes house. "Destroying the apartment the second someone opened the door. The apartments gone. You cant use it again. No one can. "

  "Gone?" The crossbow shook; Sebastians lips were twitching, his eyes wild. "You bitch. You little-"

  "Kill me," she said. "Go ahead. And explain it to Jace afterward. I dare you. "

  He looked at her, his chest heaving up and down, his fingers trembling on the trigger. Slowly he slid his hand away from it. His eyes were small and furious. "There are worse things than dying," he said. "And I will do them all to you, little sister, once youve drunk from the Cup. And you will like it. "

  She spat at him. He jabbed her hard, agonizingly, in the chest with the tip of the bow. "Turn around," he snarled, and she did, dizzy with a mixture of terror and triumph as he prodded her down a rocky slope. She was wearing thin slippers, and she felt every pebble and crack in the rocks. As they neared the witchlight, Clary saw the scene laid out before them.

  In front of her, the ground rose to a low hill. Atop the hill, facing north, was a massive ancient stone tomb. It reminded her slightly of Stonehenge: there were two narrow standing stones that held up a flat capstone, making the whole assemblage resemble a doorway. In front of the tomb a flat sill stone, like the floor of a stage, stretched across the shale and grass. Grouped before the flat stone was a half-circle of about forty Nephilim, robed in red, carrying witchlight torches. Within their half-circle, against the dark ground, blazed a blue-white pentagram.

  Atop the flat stone stood Jace. He wore scarlet gear like Sebastian; they had never looked so alike.

  Clary could see the brightness of his hair even from a distance. He was pacing the edge of the flat sill stone, and as they grew closer, Clary driven ahead by Sebastian, she could hear what he was saying.

  ". . . gratitude for your loyalty, even over these last difficult years, and grateful for your belief in our father, and now in his sons. And his daughter. "

  A murmur ran around the square. Sebastian shoved Clary forward, and they moved through the shadows, and then climbed up onto the stone behind Jace. Jace saw them and inclined his head before turning back to the crowd; he was smiling. "You are the ones who will be saved," he said. "A thousand years ago the Angel gave us his blood, to make us special, to make us warriors. But it was not enough. A thousand years have passed, and still we hide in the shadows. We protect mundanes we do not love from forces of which they remain ignorant, and an ancient, ossified Law prevents us from revealing ourselves as their saviors. We die in our hundreds, unthanked, unmourned but by our own kind, and without recourse to the Angel who created us. " He moved closer to the edge of the rock platform. The Shadowhunters before it were standing in a half-circle. His hair looked like pale fire. "Yes. I dare to say it. The Angel who created us will not aid us, and we are alone. More alone even than the mundanes, for as one of their great scientists once said, they are like children playing with pebbles on the seashore, while all around them the great ocean of truth lies undiscovered. But we know the truth. We are the saviors of this earth, and we should be ruling it. "

  Jace was a good speaker, Clary thought with a sort of pain at her heart, in the same way that Valentine had been. She and Sebastian were behind him now, facing the plain and the crowd on it; she could feel the stares of the gathered Shadowhunters on both of them.

  "Yes. Ruling it. " He smiled, a lovely easy smile, full of charm, edged with darkness. "Raziel is cruel and indifferent to our sufferings. It is time to turn from him. Turn to Lilith, Great Mother, who will give us power without punishment, leadership without the Law. Our birthright is power. It is time to claim it. "

  He looked sideways with a smile as Sebastian moved forward. "And now Ill let you hear the rest of it from Jonathan, whose dream this is," said Jace smoothly, and he retreated, letting Sebastian slide easily into his place. He took another step back, and now he was beside Clary, his hand reaching down to twine with hers.

  "Good speech," she muttered. Sebastian was speaking; she ignored him, focusing on Jace. "Very convincing. "

  "You think? I was going to start off Friends, Romans, evildoers. . . but I didnt think theyd see the humor. "

  "You think theyre evildoers?"

  He shrugged. "The Clave would. " He looked away from Sebastian, down at her. "You look beautiful," he said, but his voice was oddly flat. "What happened?"

  She was caught off guard. "What do you mean?"

  He opened his jacket. Underneath he was wearing a white shirt. It was stained at the side and the sleeve with red. She noticed he was careful to turn away from the crowd as he showed her the blood. "I feel what he feels," he said. "Or did you forget? I had to iratze myself without anyone noticing. It felt like someone was slicing my skin with a razor blade. "

  Clary met his gaze. There was no point lying, was there? There was no going back, literally or figuratively. "Sebastian and I had a fight. "

  His eyes searched her face. "Well," he said, letting his jacket fall closed, "I hope youve worked it out, whatever it was. "

  "Jace. . . ," she began, but he had given his attention to Sebastian now. His profile was cold and clear in the moonlight, like a silhouette cut out of dark paper. In front of them Sebastian, who had set down his crossbow, raised his arms. "Are you with me?" he cried.

  A murmur ran around the square, and Clary tensed. One of the group of Nephilim, an older man, threw his hood back and scowled. "Your father made us many promises. None were fulfilled. Why should we trust you?"

  "Because I will bring you the fulfillment of my promises now. Tonight," Sebastian said, and from his tunic he drew the imitation Mortal Cup. It glowed softly white under the moon.

  The murmuring was louder now. Under its cover Jace said, "I hope this goes smoothly. I feel like I didnt sleep last night at all. "

  He was facing the crowd and the pentagram, a look of keen interest on his face. His face was delicately angular in the witchlight. She could see the scar on his cheek, the hollows at his temples, the lovely shape of his mouth. I wont remember this, he had said. When Im back-like I was,
under his control, I wont remember being myself. And it was true. He had forgotten every detail. Somehow, though she had known it, had seen him forget, the pain of the reality was acute.

  Sebastian stepped down off the rock and moved toward the pentagram. At the edge of it he began to chant. "Abyssum invoco. Lilith invoco. Mater mea, invoco. "

  He drew a thin dagger from his belt. Tucking the Cup into the curve of his arm, he used the edge of the blade to slice into his palm. Blood welled, black in the moonlight. He slid the knife back into his belt and held his bleeding hand over the Cup, still chanting in Latin.

  It was now or never. "Jace," Clary whispered. "I know this isnt really you. I know theres a part of you that cant be all right with this. Try to remember who you are, Jace Lightwood. "

  His head whipped around, and he looked at her in astonishment. "What are you talking about?"

  "Please try to remember, Jace. I love you. You love me-"

  "I do love you, Clary," he said, an edge to his voice. "But you said you understood. This is it. The culmination of everything weve worked toward. "

  Sebastian flung the contents of the Cup into the center of the pentagram. "Hic est enim calix sanguinis mei. "

  "Not we," Clary whispered. "Im not part of this. Neither are you-"

  Jace inhaled sharply. For a moment Clary thought it was because of what shed said-that maybe, somehow, she was breaking through his shell-but she followed his gaze and saw that a spinning ball of fire had appeared in the center of the pentagram. It was about the size of a baseball, but as she gazed, it grew, elongating and shaping itself, until at last it was the outline of a woman, made all of flames.

  "Lilith," Sebastian said in a ringing voice. "As you called me forth, now I call you. As you gave me life, so I give life to you. "

  Slowly the flames darkened. She stood before them all now, Lilith, half again the height of an ordinary human, stripped naked with her black hair waterfalling down her back to her ankles. Her body was as gray as ash, fissured with black lines like volcanic lava. She turned her eyes to Sebastian, and they were writhing black snakes.

  "My child," she breathed.

  Sebastian seemed to glow, like witchlight himself-pale skin, pale hair, and his clothes looked black in the moonlight. "Mother, I have called you up as you wished of me. Tonight you will not just be my mother but mother to a new race. " He indicated the waiting Shadowhunters, who were motionless, probably with shock. It was one thing to know a Greater Demon was going to be called, another to see one in the flesh. "The Cup," he said, and held it out to her, its pale white rim stained with his blood.

  Lilith chuckled. It sounded like massive stones grinding against one another. She took the Cup and, as casually as one might pick an insect off a leaf, tore a gash in her ashy gray wrist with her teeth. Very slowly, sludgy black blood trickled forth, spattering into the Cup, which seemed to change, darkening under her touch, its clear translucence turning to mud. "As the Mortal Cup has been to the Shadowhunters, both a talisman and a means of transformation, so shall this Infernal Cup be to you," she said in her charred, windblown voice. She knelt, holding out the Cup to Sebastian. "Take of my blood and drink. "

  Sebastian took the Cup from her hands. It had turned black now, a shimmering black like hematite.

  "As your army grows, so shall my strength," Lilith hissed. "Soon I will be strong enough to truly return-and we shall share the fire of power, my son. "

  Sebastian inclined his head. "We proclaim you Death, my mother, and profess your resurrection. "

  Lilith laughed, raising her arms. Fire licked up her body, and she launched herself into the air, exploding into a dozen spinning particles of light that faded like the embers of a dying fire. When they were gone completely, Sebastian kicked at the pentagram, breaking its continuity, and raised his head. There was an awful smile on his face.

  "Cartwright," he said. "Bring forth the first. "

  The crowd parted, and a robed man pushed forward, a stumbling woman at his side. A chain bound her to his arm, and long, tangled hair hid her face from view. Clary tensed all over. "Jace, what is this? Whats going on?"

  "Nothing," he said, looking ahead absently. "No ones going to be hurt. Just changed. Watch. "

  Cartwright, whose name Clary dimly remembered from her time in Idris, put his hand on his captives head and forced her to their knees. Then he bent and took hold of her hair, jerking her head up. She looked up at Sebastian, blinking in terror and defiance, her face clearly outlined by the moon.

  Clary sucked in her breath. "Amatis. "

  Chapter 21: Raising Hell

  Lukes sister looked up, her blue eyes, so much like Lukes, fastening on Clary. She seemed dizzied, shocked, her expression a little unfocused as if shed been drugged. She tried to start to her feet, but Cartwright shoved her back down. Sebastian started toward them, the Cup in his hand.

  Clary scrambled forward, but Jace caught her by the arm, pulling her back. She kicked at him, but hed already swung her up into his arms, his hand over her mouth. Sebastian was speaking to Amatis in a low, hypnotic voice. She shook her head violently, but Cartwright caught her by her long hair and jerked her head back. Clary heard her cry out, a thin sound over the wind.

  Clary thought of the night shed stayed up watching Jaces chest rise and fall, thinking how she could end all this with a single knife blow. But all this hadnt had a face, a voice, a plan. Now that it wore Lukes sisters face, now that Clary knew the plan, it was too late.

  Sebastian had one hand fisted in the back of Amatiss hair, the Cup jammed against her mouth. As he forced the contents down her throat, she retched and coughed, black fluid dripping down her chin.

 

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