But Raphael was laughing. “You missed,” he said, and grinned for the first time, showing pointed white incisors. “You missed my heart.”
Jace tightened his grip. “You moved at the last minute,” he said. “That was very inconsiderate.”
Raphael frowned and spit, red. Clary stepped back, staring in dawning horror.
“When did you figure it out?” he demanded. His accent had faded, his words more precise and clipped now.
“I guessed in the alley,” Jace said. “But I figured you’d get us inside the hotel, then turn on us. Once we’d trespassed, we’d have been out of the protection of the Covenant. Fair game. When you didn’t, I thought I might have been wrong. Then I saw that scar on your throat.” He sat back a little, still holding the blade at Raphael’s throat. “I thought when I first saw that chain that it looked like the sort you’d hang a cross from. And you did, didn’t you, when you went out to see your family? What’s the scar of a little burn when your kind heal so quickly?”
Raphael laughed. “Was that all? My scar?”
“When you left the foyer, your feet didn’t leave marks in the dust. Then I knew.”
“It wasn’t your brother who went in here looking for monsters and never came out, was it?” Clary said, realizing. “It was you.”
“You are both very clever,” Raphael said. “Although not quite clever enough. Look up,” he said, and lifted a hand to point at the ceiling.
Jace knocked the hand away without moving his glance from Raphael. “Clary. What do you see?”
She raised her head slowly, dread curdling in the pit of her stomach.
You must imagine this staircase the way it was once, with the gas lamps burning all up and down the steps, like fireflies in the dark, and the balconies full of people. They were filled with people now, row on row of vampires with their dead-white faces, their red stretched mouths, staring bemusedly downward.
Jace was still looking at Raphael. “You called them. Didn’t you?”
Raphael was still grinning. The blood had stopped spreading from the wound in his chest. “Does it matter? There are too many of them, even for you, Wayland.”
Jace said nothing. Though he hadn’t moved, he was breathing in short quick pants, and Clary could almost feel the strength of his desire to kill the vampire boy, to shove the knife through his heart and wipe that grin off his face forever. “Jace,” she said warningly. “Don’t kill him.”
“Maybe we can use him as a hostage.”
Jace’s eyes widened. “A hostage?”
She could see them, more of them, filling the arched doorway, moving as silently as the Brothers of the Bone City. But the Brothers had not had skin so white and colorless, nor hands that curled into claws at the tips ….
Clary licked her dry lips. “I know what I’m doing. Get him on his feet, Jace.”
Jace looked at her, then shrugged. “All right.”
Raphael snapped, “This isn’t funny.”
“That’s why no one’s laughing.” Jace stood, hauling Raphael upright, jamming the tip of his knife between Raphael’s shoulder blades. “I can pierce your heart just as easily through your back,” he said. “I wouldn’t move if I were you.”
Clary turned away from them to face the oncoming dark shapes. She flung out a hand. “Stop right there,” she said. “Or he’ll put that blade through Raphael’s heart.”
A sort of murmur ran through the crowd that could have been whispering or laughter. “Stop,” Clary said again, and this time Jace did something, she didn’t see what, that made Raphael cry out in surprised pain.
One of the vampires flung an arm out to hold back his companions. Clary recognized him as the thin blond boy with the earring that she’d seen at Magnus’s party. “She means it,” he said. “They are Shadowhunters.”
Another vampire pushed her way through the crowd to stand at his side—a pretty blue-haired Asian girl in a silver foil skirt. Clary wondered if there were any ugly vampires, or maybe any fat ones. Maybe they didn’t make vampires out of ugly people. Or maybe ugly people just didn’t want to live forever. “Shadowhunters trespassing on our territory,” she said. “They are out of the protection of the Covenant. I say we kill them—they have killed enough of ours.”
“Which of you is the master of this place?” Jace said, his voice very flat. “Let him step forward.”
The girl bared her pointed teeth. “Do not use Clave language on us, Shadowhunter. You have broken your precious Covenant, coming in here. The Law will not protect you.”
“That’s enough, Lily,” said the blond boy sharply. “Our master is not here. She is in Idris.”
“Someone must rule you in her stead,” Jace observed.
There was a silence. The vampires up in the balconies were hanging off the railings, leaning down to hear what was being said. Finally, “Raphael leads us,” said the blond vampire.
The blue-haired girl, Lily, let out a hiss of disapproval. “Jacob—”
“I propose a trade,” Clary said quickly, cutting off Lily’s tirade and Jacob’s retort. “By now you must know you took home too many people from the party tonight. One of them was my friend Simon.”
Jacob raised his eyebrows. “You’re friends with a vampire?”
“He’s not a vampire. And not a Shadowhunter, either,” she added, seeing Lily’s pale eyes narrow. “Just an ordinary human boy.”
“We didn’t take any human boys home with us from Magnus’s party. That would have been a violation of the Covenant.”
“He’d been transformed into a rat. A small brown rat,” said Clary. “Someone might have thought he was a pet, or …”
Her voice trailed off. They were staring at her as if she were insane. Cold despair seeped into her bones.
“Let me get this straight,” Lily said. “You’re offering to trade Raphael’s life for a rat?”
Clary looked helplessly back at Jace. He gave her a look that said, This was your idea. You’re on your own.
“Yes,” she said, turning back to the vampires. “That’s the trade we’re offering.”
They stared at her, white faces nearly expressionless. In another context Clary would have said that they looked baffled.
She could feel Jace standing behind her, hear the rasp of his breathing. She wondered if he was racking his brain trying to figure out why he’d let her drag them both here in the first place. She wondered if he was starting to hate her.
“Do you mean this rat?”
Clary blinked. Another vampire, a thin black boy with dreadlocks, had pushed his way to the front of the crowd. He was holding something in his hands, something brown that squirmed feebly. “Simon?” she whispered.
The rat squeaked and started to thrash wildly in the boy’s grip. He looked down at the captive rodent with an expression of distaste. “Man, I thought he was Zeke. I wondered why he was copping such an attitude.” He shook his head, dreadlocks bouncing. “I say she can have him, dude. He’s already bitten me five times.”
Clary reached out for Simon, her hands aching to hold him. But Lily stepped in front of her before she could take more than a step in his direction. “Wait,” Lily said. “How do we know you won’t just take the rat and kill Raphael anyway?”
“We’ll give our word,” Clary said immediately, then tensed, waiting for them to laugh.
Nobody laughed. Raphael swore softly in Spanish. Lily looked curiously at Jace.
“Clary,” he said. There was an undercurrent of exasperated desperation in his voice. “Is this really a—”
“No oath, no trade,” said Lily immediately, seizing on his uncertain tone. “Elliott, hold on to that rat.”
The dreadlocked boy tightened his grip on Simon, who sank his teeth savagely into Elliott’s hand. “Man,” he said glumly. “That hurt.”
Clary took the opportunity to whisper to Jace. “Just swear! What can it hurt?”
“Swearing for us isn’t like it is for you mundanes,” he snapped back angrily. “I’ll be bound forever to any oath I make.”
“Oh, yeah? What would happen if you broke it?”
“I wouldn’t break it, that’s the point—”
“Lily is right,” said Jacob. “An oath is required. Swear that you won’t hurt Raphael. Even if we give you the rat back.”
“I won’t hurt Raphael,” Clary said immediately. “No matter what.”
Lily smiled at her tolerantly. “It isn’t you we’re worried about.” She shot a pointed look at Jace, who was holding Raphael so tightly that his knuckles were white. A patch of sweat darkened the cloth of his shirt, just between his shoulder blades.
He said, “All right. I swear it.”
“Speak the oath,” Lily said swiftly. “Swear on the Angel. Say it all.”
Jace shook his head. “You swear first.”
His words fell into the silence like stones, sending a rippling murmur through the crowd. Jacob looked concerned, Lily furious. “Not a chance, Shadowhunter.”
“We have your leader.” The tip of Jace’s knife dug farther into Raphael’s throat. “And what have you got there? A rat.”
Simon, pinned in Elliott’s hands, squeaked furiously. Clary longed to snatch him up, but held herself back. “Jace—”
Lily looked toward Raphael. “Master?”
Raphael had his head down, his dark curls falling to hide his face. Blood stained the collar of his shirt, trickled down the bare brown skin underneath. “A pretty important rat,” he said, “for you to come all the way here for him. It is you, Shadowhunter, I think, who will swear first.”
Jace’s grip on him tightened convulsively. Clary saw the swell of the muscles under his skin, the whitening of his fingers and at the sides of his mouth as he fought his anger. “The rat’s a mundane,” he said sharply. “If you kill him, you’ll be subject to the Law—”
“He is on our territory. Trespassers are not protected by the Covenant, you know that—”
“You brought him here,” Clary interjected. “He didn’t trespass.”
“Technicalities,” said Raphael, grinning at her despite the knife at his throat. “Besides. You think we do not hear the rumors, the news that is running through Downworld like blood through veins? Valentine is back. There will be no Accords and no Covenant soon enough.”
Jace’s head jerked up. “Where did you hear that?”
Raphael frowned scornfully. “All Downworld knows it. He paid a warlock to raise a pack of Raveners only a week ago. He has brought his Forsaken to seek the Mortal Cup. When he finds it, there will be no more false peace between us, only war. No Law will prevent me from tearing your heart out on the street, Shadowhunter—”
That was enough for Clary. She dove for Simon, shouldering Lily aside, and snatched the rat out of Elliott’s hands. Simon scrabbled up her arm, gripping her sleeve with frantic paws.
“It’s okay,” she whispered, “it’s okay.” Though she knew it wasn’t. She turned to run, and felt hands catch at her jacket, holding her. She struggled, but her efforts to tear herself free of the hands that held her—Lily’s, narrow and bony with black fingernails—were hampered by her fear of dislodging Simon, who clung to her jacket with paws and teeth. “Let go !” she screamed, kicking out at the vampire girl. Her booted toe connected, hard, and Lily shouted in pain and rage. She whipped her hand forward, striking Clary’s cheek with enough force to rock her head back.
Clary staggered and nearly fell. She heard Jace shout her name, and turned to see that he had let go of Raphael and was racing toward her. Clary tried to go to him, but her shoulders were gripped by Jacob, his fingers digging into her skin.
Clary cried out—and the noise was lost in a larger shriek as Jace, snatching one of the glass vials from his jacket, flung its contents toward her. She felt cool wetness splash her face, and heard Jacob scream as the water touched his skin. Smoke rose from his fingers and he released Clary, howling a high animal howl. Lily darted toward him, crying out his name, and in the pandemonium, Clary felt someone seize her wrist. She struggled to yank herself away.
“Stop it—you idiot—it’s me,” Jace panted in her ear.
“Oh!” She relaxed momentarily, then tensed again, seeing a familiar shape loom up behind Jace. She cried out and Jace ducked and spun just as Raphael leaped at him, teeth bared, quick as a cat. His fangs caught Jace’s shirt near the shoulder and tore the fabric lengthwise as Jace staggered. Raphael clung on like a gripping spider, teeth snapping at Jace’s throat. Clary fumbled in her pack for the dagger Jace had given her—
A small brown shape streaked across the floor, shot between Clary’s feet, and launched itself at Raphael.
Raphael screamed. Simon hung grimly from his forearm, his sharp rat-teeth sunk deep into the flesh. Raphael let go of Jace, flailing backward, blood spurting as a stream of Spanish obscenities poured from his mouth.
Jace gaped, his mouth open. “Son of a—”
Regaining his balance, Raphael tore the rat free from his arm and flung him to the marble floor. Simon squeaked once in pain, then dashed over to Clary. She bent down and snatched him up, holding him against her chest as tightly as she could without hurting him. She could feel the hammering beat of his tiny heart against her fingers. “Simon,” she whispered. “Simon—”
“There’s no time for that. Hold on to him.” Jace had caught at her right arm, gripping with painful force. In the other hand he held a glowing seraph blade. “Move.”