There’s no one in here, she realized, looking around in bewilderment. It was cold in the room, despite the August heat outside. Her back was icy with sweat. She took a step forward, tangling her feet in electrical wires. She bent down to free her sneaker from the cables—and heard voices. A girl’s laugh, a boy answering sharply. When she straightened up, she saw them.
It was as if they had sprung into existence between one blink of her eyes and the next. There was the girl in her long white dress, her black hair hanging down her back like damp seaweed. The two boys were with her—the tall one with black hair like hers, and the smaller, fair one, whose hair gleamed like brass in the dim light coming through the windows high above. The fair boy was standing with his hands in his pockets, facing the punk kid, who was tied to a pillar with what looked like piano wire, his hands stretched behind him, his legs bound at the ankles. His face was pulled tight with pain and fear.
Heart hammering in her chest, Clary ducked behind the nearest concrete pillar and peered around it. She watched as the fair-haired boy paced back and forth, his arms now crossed over his chest. “So,” he said. “You still haven’t told me if there are any other of your kind with you.”
Your kind? Clary wondered what he was talking about. Maybe she’d stumbled into some kind of gang war.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” The blue-haired boy’s tone was pained but surly.
“He means other demons,” said the dark-haired boy, speaking for the first time. “You do know what a demon is, don’t you?”
The boy tied to the pillar turned his face away, his mouth working.
“Demons,” drawled the blond boy, tracing the word on the air with his finger. “Religiously defined as hell’s denizens, the servants of Satan, but understood here, for the purposes of the Clave, to be any malevolent spirit whose origin is outside our own home dimension—”
“That’s enough, Jace,” said the girl.
“Isabelle’s right,” agreed the taller boy. “Nobody here needs a lesson in semantics—or demonology.”
They’re crazy, Clary thought. Actually crazy.
Jace raised his head and smiled. There was something fierce about the gesture, something that reminded Clary of documentaries she’d watched about lions on the Discovery Channel, the way the big cats would raise their heads and sniff the air for prey. “Isabelle and Alec think I talk too much,” he said, confidingly. “Do you think I talk too much?”
The blue-haired boy didn’t reply. His mouth was still working. “I could give you information,” he said. “I know where Valentine is.”
Jace glanced back at Alec, who shrugged. “Valentine’s in the ground,” Jace said. “The thing’s just toying with us.”
Isabelle tossed her hair. “Kill it, Jace,” she said. “It’s not going to tell us anything.”
Jace raised his hand, and Clary saw dim light spark off the knife he was holding. It was oddly translucent, the blade clear as crystal, sharp as a shard of glass, the hilt set with red stones.
The bound boy gasped. “Valentine is back!” he protested, dragging at the bonds that held his hands behind his back. “All the Infernal Worlds know it—I know it—I can tell you where he is—”
Rage flared suddenly in Jace’s icy eyes. “By the Angel, every time we capture one of you bastards, you claim you know where Valentine is. Well, we know where he is too. He’s in hell. And you—” Jace turned the knife in his grasp, the edge sparking like a line of fire. “You can join him there.”
Clary could take no more. She stepped out from behind the pillar. “Stop!” she cried. “You can’t do this.”
Jace whirled, so startled that the knife flew from his hand and clattered against the concrete floor. Isabelle and Alec turned along with him, wearing identical expressions of astonishment. The blue-haired boy hung in his bonds, stunned and gaping.
It was Alec who spoke first. “What’s this?” he demanded, looking from Clary to his companions, as if they might know what she was doing there.
“It’s a girl,” Jace said, recovering his composure. “Surely you’ve seen girls before, Alec. Your sister Isabelle is one.” He took a step closer to Clary, squinting as if he couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing. “A mundie girl,” he said, half to himself. “And she can see us.”
“Of course I can see you,” Clary said. “I’m not blind, you know.”
“Oh, but you are,” said Jace, bending to pick up his knife. “You just don’t know it.” He straightened up. “You’d better get out of here, if you know what’s good for you.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Clary said. “If I do, you’ll kill him.” She pointed at the boy with the blue hair.
“That’s true,” admitted Jace, twirling the knife between his fingers. “What do you care if I kill him or not?”
“Be-because—” Clary spluttered. “You can’t just go around killing people.”
“You’re right,” said Jace. “You can’t go around killing people.” He pointed at the boy with blue hair, whose eyes were slitted. Clary wondered if he’d fainted. “That’s not a person, little girl. It may look like a person and talk like a person and maybe even bleed like a person. But it’s a monster.”
“Jace,” said Isabelle warningly. “That’s enough.”
“You’re crazy,” Clary said, backing away from him. “I’ve called the police, you know. They’ll be here any second.”
“She’s lying,” said Alec, but there was doubt on his face. “Jace, do you—”
He never got to finish his sentence. At that moment the blue-haired boy, with a high, yowling cry, tore free of the restraints binding him to the pillar, and flung himself on Jace.
They fell to the ground and rolled together, the blue-haired boy tearing at Jace with hands that glittered as if tipped with metal. Clary backed up, wanting to run, but her feet caught on a loop of wiring and she went down, knocking the breath out of her chest. She could hear Isabelle shrieking. Rolling over, Clary saw the blue-haired boy sitting on Jace’s chest. Blood gleamed at the tips of his razorlike claws.
Isabelle and Alec were running toward them, Isabelle brandishing the whip in her hand. The blue-haired boy slashed at Jace with claws extended. Jace threw an arm up to protect himself, and the claws raked it, splattering blood. The blue-haired boy lunged again—and Isabelle’s whip came down across his back. He shrieked and fell to the side.
Swift as a flick of Isabelle’s whip, Jace rolled over. There was a blade gleaming in his hand. He sank the knife into the blue-haired boy’s chest. Blackish liquid exploded around the hilt. The boy arched off the floor, gurgling and twisting. With a grimace Jace stood up. His black shirt was blacker now in some places, wet with blood. He looked down at the twitching form at his feet, reached down, and yanked out the knife. The hilt was slick with black fluid.
The blue-haired boy’s eyes flickered open. His eyes, fixed on Jace, seemed to burn. Between his teeth, he hissed, “So be it. The Forsaken will take you all.”
Jace seemed to snarl. The boy’s eyes rolled back. His body began to jerk and twitch as he crumpled, folding in on himself, growing smaller and smaller until he vanished entirely.
Clary scrambled to her feet, kicking free of the electrical wiring. She began to back away. None of them were paying attention to her. Alec had reached Jace and was holding his arm, pulling at the sleeve, probably trying to get a good look at the wound. Clary turned to run—and found her way blocked by Isabelle, whip in hand. The gold length of it was stained with dark fluid. She flicked it toward Clary, and the end wrapped itself around her wrist and jerked tight. Clary gasped with pain and surprise.
“Stupid little mundie,” Isabelle said between her teeth. “You could have gotten Jace killed.”
“He’s crazy,” Clary said, trying to pull her wrist back. The whip bit deeper into her skin. “You’re all crazy. What do you think you are, vigilante killers? The police—”
“The police aren’t usually interested unless you can produce a body,” said Jace. Cradling his arm, he picked his way across the cable-strewn floor toward Clary. Alec followed behind him, face screwed into a scowl.
Clary glanced at the spot where the boy had disappeared from, and said nothing. There wasn’t even a smear of blood there—nothing to show that the boy had ever existed.
“They return to their home dimensions when they die,” said Jace. “In case you were wondering.”
“Jace,” Alec hissed. “Be careful.”
Jace drew his arm away. A ghoulish freckling of blood marked his face. He still reminded her of a lion, with his wide-spaced, light-colored eyes, and that tawny gold hair. “She can see us, Alec,” he said. “She already knows too much.”
“So what do you want me to do with her?” Isabelle demanded.
“Let her go,” Jace said quietly. Isabelle shot him a surprised, almost angry look, but didn’t argue. The whip slithered away, freeing Clary’s arm. She rubbed her sore wrist and wondered how the hell she was going to get out of there.
“Maybe we should bring her back with us,” Alec said. “I bet Hodge would like to talk to her.”
“No way are we bringing her to the Institute,” said Isabelle. “She’s a mundie.”
“Or is she?” said Jace softly. His quiet tone was worse than Isabelle’s snapping or Alec’s anger. “Have you had dealings with demons, little girl? Walked with warlocks, talked with the Night Children? Have you—”
“My name is not ‘little girl,’” Clary interrupted. “And I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Don’t you? said a voice in the back of her head. You saw that boy vanish into thin air. Jace isn’t crazy—you just wish he was. “I don’t believe in—in demons, or whatever you—”
“Clary?” It was Simon’s voice. She whirled around. He was standing by the storage room door. One of the burly bouncers who’d been stamping hands at the front door was next to him. “Are you okay?” He peered at her through the gloom. “Why are you in here by yourself? What happened to the guys—you know, the ones with the knives?”
Clary stared at him, then looked behind her, where Jace, Isabelle, and Alec stood, Jace still in his bloody shirt with the knife in his hand. He grinned at her and dropped a half-apologetic, half-mocking shrug. Clearly he wasn’t surprised that neither Simon nor the bouncer could see them.
Somehow neither was Clary. Slowly she turned back to Simon, knowing how she must look to him, standing alone in a damp storage room, her feet tangled in bright plastic wiring cables. “I thought they went in here,” she said lamely. “But I guess they didn’t. I’m sorry.” She glanced from Simon, whose expression was changing from worried to embarrassed, to the bouncer, who just looked annoyed. “It was a mistake.”
Behind her, Isabelle giggled.
“I don’t believe it,” Simon said stubbornly as Clary, standing at the curb, tried desperately to hail a cab. Street cleaners had come down Orchard while they were inside the club, and the street was glossed black with oily water.
“I know,” she agreed. “You’d think there’d be some cabs. Where is everyone going at midnight on a Sunday?” She turned back to him, shrugging. “You think we’d have better luck on Houston?”
“Not the cabs,” Simon said. “You—I don’t believe you. I don’t believe those guys with the knives just disappeared.”
Clary sighed. “Maybe there weren’t any guys with knives, Simon. Maybe I just imagined the whole thing.”
“No way.” Simon raised his hand over his head, but the oncoming taxis whizzed by him, spraying dirty water. “I saw your face when I came into that storage room. You looked seriously freaked out, like you’d seen a ghost.”
Clary thought of Jace with his lion-cat eyes. She glanced down at her wrist, braceleted by a thin red line where Isabelle’s whip had curled. No, not a ghost, she thought. Something even weirder than that.
“It was just a mistake,” she said wearily. She wondered why she wasn’t telling him the truth. Except, of course, that he’d think she was crazy. And there was something about what had happened—something about the black blood bubbling up around Jace’s knife, something about his voice when he’d said Have you talked with the Night Children? that she wanted to keep to herself.
“Well, it was a hell of an embarrassing mistake,” Simon said. He glanced back at the club, where a thin line still snaked out the door and halfway down the block. “I doubt they’ll ever let us back into Pandemonium.”
“What do you care? You hate Pandemonium.” Clary raised her hand again as a yellow shape sped toward them through the fog. This time, though, the taxi screeched to a halt at their corner, the driver laying into his horn as if he needed to get their attention.
“Finally we get lucky.” Simon yanked the taxi door open and slid onto the plastic-covered backseat. Clary followed, inhaling the familiar New York cab smell of old cigarette smoke, leather, and hair spray. “We’re going to Brooklyn,” Simon said to the cabbie, and then he turned to Clary. “Look, you know you can tell me anything, right?”
Clary hesitated a moment, then nodded. “Sure, Simon,” she said. “I know I can.”
She slammed the cab door shut behind her, and the taxi took off into the night.
SECRETS AND LIES
THE DARK PRINCE SAT ASTRIDE HIS BLACK STEED, HIS SABLE cape flowing behind him. A golden circlet bound his blond locks, his handsome face was cold with the rage of battle, and …
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