Jace unhitched himself from the railing as Clary emerged. He fell into step beside her, not speaking. He seemed lost in thought. Isabelle and Alec, hurrying ahead, sounded like they were arguing with each other. Clary stepped up her pace a little, craning her neck to hear them better.
“It’s not your fault,” Alec was saying. He sounded weary, as if he’d been through this sort of thing with his sister before. Clary wondered how many boyfriends she’d turned into rats by accident. “But it ought to teach you not to go to so many Downworld parties,” he added. “They’re always more trouble than they’re worth.”
Isabelle sniffed loudly. “If anything had happened to him, I—I don’t know what I would have done.”
“Probably whatever it is you did before,” said Alec in a bored voice. “It’s not like you knew him all that well.”
“That doesn’t mean that I don’t—”
“What? Love him?” Alec scoffed, raising his voice. “You need to know someone to love them.”
“But that’s not all it is.” Isabelle sounded almost sad. “Didn’t you have any fun at the party, Alec?”
“I thought you might like Magnus. He’s nice, isn’t he?”
“Nice?” Alec looked at her as if she were insane. “Kittens are nice. Warlocks are—” He hesitated. “Not,” he finished, lamely.
“I thought you might hit it off.” Isabelle’s eye makeup glittered as bright as tears as she glanced over at her brother. “Get to be friends.”
“I have friends,” Alec said, and looked over his shoulder, almost as if he couldn’t help it, at Jace.
But Jace, his golden head down, lost in thought, didn’t notice.
On impulse Clary reached to open the pack and glance into it—and frowned. The pack was open. She flashed back to the party—she’d lifted the pack, pulled the zipper closed. She was sure of it. She yanked the bag open, her heart pounding.
She remembered the time she’d had her wallet stolen on the subway. She remembered opening her bag, not seeing it there, her mouth drying up in surprise—Did I drop it? Have I lost it? And realizing: It’s gone. This was like that, only a thousand times worse. Mouth dry as bone, Clary pawed through the pack, shoving aside clothes and sketchpad, her fingernails scraping the bottom. Nothing.
She’d stopped walking. Jace was hovering just ahead of her, looking impatient, Alec and Isabelle already a block ahead. “What’s wrong?” Jace asked, and she could tell he was about to add something sarcastic. He must have seen the look on her face, though, because he didn’t. “Clary?”
“He’s gone,” she whispered. “Simon. He was in my backpack—”
“Did he climb out?”
It wasn’t an unreasonable question, but Clary, exhausted and panic-stricken, reacted unreasonably. “Of course he didn’t!” she screamed. “What, you think he wants to get smashed under someone’s car, killed by a cat—”
“Shut up!” she screamed, swinging the pack at him. “You were the one who said not to bother changing him back—”
Deftly he caught the pack as she swung it. Taking it out of her hand, he examined it. “The zipper’s torn,” he said. “From the outside. Someone ripped this bag open.”
Shaking her head numbly, Clary could only whisper, “I didn’t …”
“I know.” His voice was gentle. He cupped his hands around his mouth. “Alec! Isabelle! You go on ahead! We’ll catch up.”
The two figures, already far ahead, paused; Alec hesitated, but his sister caught hold of his arm and pushed him firmly toward the subway entrance. Something pressed against Clary’s back: It was Jace’s hand, turning her gently around. She let him lead her forward, stumbling over the cracks in the sidewalk, until they were back in the entryway of Magnus’s building. The stench of stale alcohol and the sweet, uncanny smell Clary had come to associate with Downworlders filled the tiny space. Taking his hand away from her back, Jace pressed the buzzer over Magnus’s name.
“Jace,” she said.
He looked down at her. “What?”
She searched for words. “Do you think he’s all right?”
“Simon?” He hesitated then, and she thought of Isabelle’s words: Don’t ask him a question unless you know you can stand the answer. Instead of saying anything, he pressed the buzzer again, harder this time.
This time Magnus answered it, his voice booming through the tiny entryway. “WHO DARES DISTURB MY REST?”
Jace looked almost nervous. “Jace Wayland. Remember? I’m from the Clave.”
“Oh, yes.” Magnus seemed to have perked up. “Are you the one with the blue eyes?”
“He means Alec,” Clary said helpfully.
“No. My eyes are usually described as golden,” Jace told the intercom. “And luminous.”
“Oh, you’re that one.” Magnus sounded disappointed. If Clary hadn’t been so upset, she would have laughed. “I suppose you’d better come up.”
The warlock answered his door wearing a silk kimono printed with dragons, a gold turban, and an expression of barely controlled annoyance.
“I was sleeping,” he said loftily.
Jace looked as if he were about to say something rude, possibly about the turban, so Clary interrupted him. “Sorry to bother you—”
Something small and white peered around the warlock’s ankles. It had zigzag gray stripes and tufted pink ears that made it look more like a large mouse than a small cat.
“Chairman Meow?” Clary guessed.
Magnus nodded. “He has returned.”
Jace regarded the small tabby kitten with some scorn. “That’s not a cat,” he observed. “It’s the size of a hamster.”
“I am kindly going to forget you said that,” said Magnus, using his foot to nudge Chairman Meow behind him. “Now, exactly what did you come here for?”
Clary held out the torn pack. “It’s Simon. He’s missing.”
“Ah,” said Magnus, delicately, “missing what, exactly?”
“Missing,” Jace repeated, “as in gone, absent, notable for his lack of presence, disappeared.”
“Maybe he’s gone and hidden under something,” Magnus suggested. “It can’t be easy getting used to being a rat, especially for someone so dim-witted in the first place.”
“Simon’s not dim-witted,” Clary protested angrily.
“It’s true,” Jace agreed. “He just looks dim-witted. Really his intelligence is quite average.” His tone was light but his shoulders were tense as he turned to Magnus. “When we were leaving, one of your guests brushed up against Clary. I think he tore her bag open and took the rat. Simon, I mean.”
Magnus looked at him. “And?”
“And I need to find out who it was,” said Jace steadily. “I’m guessing you know. You are the High Warlock of Brooklyn. I’m thinking not much happens in your own apartment that you don’t know about.”
Magnus inspected a glittery nail. “You’re not wrong.”
“Please tell us,” Clary said. Jace’s hand tightened on her wrist. She knew he wanted her to be quiet, but that was impossible. “Please.”
Magnus dropped his hand with a sigh. “Fine. I saw one of the vampire bike kids from the uptown lair leave with a brown rat in his hands. Honestly, I figured it was one of their own. Sometimes the Night Children turn into rats or bats when they get drunk.”
Clary’s hands were shaking. “But now you think it was Simon?”
“It’s just a guess, but it seems likely.”
“There’s one more thing.” Jace spoke calmly enough, but he was on alert now, the way he had been in the apartment before they’d found the Forsaken. “Where’s their lair?”
“The vampires’ lair. That’s where they went, isn’t it?”
“I would imagine so.” Magnus looked as if he’d rather be anywhere else.
“I need you to tell me where it is.”
Magnus shook his turbaned head. “I’m not setting myself on the bad side of the Night Children for a mundane I don’t even know.”
“Wait,” Clary interrupted. “What would they want with Simon? I thought they weren’t allowed to hurt people …”
“My guess?” said Magnus, not unkindly. “They assumed he was a tame rat and thought it would be funny to kill a Shadowhunter’s pet. They don’t like you much, whatever the Accords might say—and there’s nothing in the Covenant about not killing animals.”
“They’re going to kill him?” Clary said, staring.
“Not necessarily,” said Magnus hastily. “They might have thought he was one of their own.”
“In which case, what’ll happen to him?” Clary said.
“Well, when he turns back into a human, they’ll still kill him. But you might have a few more hours.”
“Then you have to help us,” Clary said to the warlock. “Otherwise Simon will die.”
Magnus looked her up and down with a sort of clinical sympathy. “They all die, dear,” he said. “You might as well get used to it.”
He began to shut the door. Jace stuck out a foot, wedging it open. Magnus sighed. “What now?”
“You still haven’t told us where the lair is,” Jace said.
“And I’m not going to. I told you—”
It was Clary who cut him off, pushing herself in front of Jace. “You messed with my brain,” she said. “Took my memories. Can’t you do this one thing for me?”
Magnus narrowed his gleaming cat’s eyes. Somewhere in the distance Chairman Meow was crying. Slowly the warlock lowered his head and struck it once, none too gently, against the wall. “The old Hotel Dumont,” he said. “Uptown.”
“I know where that is.” Jace looked pleased.
“We need to get there right away. Do you have a Portal?” Clary demanded, addressing Magnus.
“No.” He looked annoyed. “Portals are quite difficult to construct and pose no small risk to their owner. Nasty things can come through them if they’re not warded properly. The only ones I know of in New York are the one at Dorothea’s and the one at Renwick’s, but they’re both too far away to be worth the bother of trying to get there, even if you were sure their owners would let you use them, which they probably wouldn’t. Got that? Now go away.” Magnus stared pointedly at Jace’s foot, still blocking the door. Jace didn’t move.
“One more thing,” Jace said. “Is there a holy place around here?”
“Good idea. If you’re going to take on a lair of vampires by yourself, you’d better pray first.”
“We need weapons,” Jace said tersely. “More than what we’ve got on us.”
Magnus pointed. “There’s a Catholic church down on Diamond Street. Will that do?”
Jace nodded, stepping back. “That’s—”
The door slammed in their faces. Clary, breathing as if she’d been running, stared at it until Jace took her arm and steered her down the steps and into the night.
THE HOTEL DUMORT
AT NIGHT THE DIAMOND STREET CHURCH LOOKED SPECTRAL, its Gothic arched windows reflecting the moonlight like silvery mirrors. A wrought-iron fence surrounded the building and was painted a matte black. Clary rattled the front gate, but a sturdy padlock held it closed. “It’s locked,” she said, glancing at Jace over her shoulder.
He brandished his stele. “Let me at it.”
She watched him as he worked at the lock, watched the lean curve of his back, the swell of muscles under the short sleeves of his T-shirt. The moonlight washed the color out of his hair, turning it more silver than gold.
The padlock hit the ground with a clang, a twisted lump of metal. Jace looked pleased with himself. “As usual,” he said, “I’m amazingly good at that.”
Clary felt suddenly annoyed. “When the self-congratulatory part of the evening is over, maybe we could get back to saving my best friend from being exsanguinated to death?”
“Exsanguinated,” said Jace, impressed. “That’s a big word.”
“And you’re a big—”
“Tsk tsk,” he interrupted. “No swearing in church.”
“We’re not in the church yet,” Clary muttered, following him up the stone path to the double front doors. The stone arch above the doors was beautifully carved, an angel looking down from its highest point. Sharply pointed spires were silhouetted black against the night sky, and Clary realized that this was the church she had glimpsed earlier that night from McCarren Park. She bit her lip. “It seems wrong to pick the lock on a church door, somehow.”
Jace’s profile in the moonlight was serene. “We’re not going to,” he said, sliding his stele into his pocket. He placed a thin brown hand, marked all over with delicate white scars like a veiling of lace, against the wood of the door, just above the latch. “In the name of the Clave,” he said, “I ask entry to this holy place. In the name of the Battle That Never Ends, I ask the use of your weapons. And in the name of the Angel Raziel, I ask your blessings on my mission against the darkness.”
Clary stared at him. He didn’t move, though the night wind blew his hair into his eyes; he blinked, and just as she was about to speak, the door opened with a click and a creak of hinges. It swung inward smoothly before them, opening onto a cool dark empty space, lit by points of fire.
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com