He began to half-pull her, half-push her, to the edge of the crowd. The vampires winced away from the light of the seraph blade as it swept over them, all of them hissing like scalded cats.
“Enough standing around!” It was Raphael. His arm was streaming blood, his lips curled back from his pointed incisors. He glared at the teeming mass of vampires milling in confusion. “Seize the trespassers,” he shouted. “Kill them both—the rat as well!”
The vampires started toward Jace and Clary, some of them walking, others gliding, others swooping down from the balconies above like flapping black bats. Jace increased his pace as they broke free of the crowd, heading toward the far wall. Clary squirmed, half-turning to look up at him. “Shouldn’t we stand back to back or something?”
“I don’t know. In movies that’s what they do in this kind of … situation.”
She felt him shake. Was he frightened? No, he was laughing. “You,” he breathed. “You are the most—”
“The most what?” she demanded indignantly. They were still backing up, stepping carefully to avoid the broken bits of furniture and smashed marble that littered the floor. Jace held the angel blade high above both their heads. She could see how the vampires circled around the edges of the glimmering circle it cast. She wondered how long it would hold them off.
“Nothing,” he said. “This isn’t a situation, okay? I save that word for when things get really bad.”
“Really bad? This isn’t really bad? What do you want, a nuclear—”
She broke off with a scream as Lily, braving the light, launched herself at Jace, her teeth bared in a searing snarl. Jace seized the second blade from his belt and hurled it through the air; Lily fell back screeching, a long gash sizzling down her arm. As she staggered, the other vampires surged forward around her. There were so many of them, Clary thought, so many—
She fumbled at her belt, her fingers closing around the hilt of the dagger. It felt cold and foreign in her hand. She didn’t know how to use a knife. She’d never hit anyone, let alone stabbed them. She’d even skipped gym class the day they’d learned how to ward off muggers and rapists with ordinary objects like car keys and pencils. She pulled the knife free, raised it in a shaking hand—
The windows exploded inward in a shower of broken glass. She heard herself cry out, saw the vampires—barely an arm’s length from her and Jace—whirl in astonishment, shock mingling with terror on their faces. Through the shattered windows came dozens of sleek shapes, four-footed and low to the ground, their coats scattering moonlight and broken bits of glass. Their eyes were blue fire, and from their throats came a combined low growl that sounded like the roiling crash of a waterfall.
“Now this,” said Jace, “is a situation.”
HIGH AND DRY
THE WOLVES CROUCHED, LOW AND SNARLING, AND THE vampires, looking stunned, backed away. Only Raphael held his ground. He still clutched his wounded arm, his shirt a smeared mess of blood and dirt. “Los Niños de la Luna,” he hissed. Even Clary, whose Spanish was almost nonexistent, knew what he had said. The Moon’s Children—werewolves. “I thought they hated each other,” she whispered to Jace. “Vampires and werewolves.”
“They do. They never come to each other’s lairs. Never. The Covenant forbids it.” He sounded almost indignant. “Something must have happened. This is bad. Very bad.”
“How can it be worse than it was before?”
“Because,” he said, “we’re about to be in the middle of a war.”
“HOW DARE YOU ENTER OUR PLACE?” Raphael screamed. His face was scarlet, suffused with blood.
The largest of the wolves, a brindled gray monster with teeth like a shark’s, gave a panting doglike chuckle. As he moved forward, between one step and the next he seemed to shift and change like a wave rising and curling. Now he was a tall heavily muscled man with long hair that hung in gray ropelike tangles. He wore jeans and a thick leather jacket, and there was still something wolfish in the cast of his lean, weathered face. “We didn’t come for a blooding,” he said. “We came for the girl.”
Raphael managed to look furious and astounded at once. “Who?”
“The human girl.” The werewolf flung out a stiff arm, pointing at Clary.
She was too shocked to move. Simon, who had been squirming in her grasp, went still. Behind her Jace muttered something that sounded distinctly blasphemous. “You didn’t tell me you knew any werewolves.” She could hear the slight catch under his flat tone—he was as surprised as she was.
“I don’t,” she said.
“This is bad,” said Jace.
“You said that before.”
“It seemed worth repeating.”
“Well, it wasn’t.” Clary shrank back against him. “Jace. They’re all looking at me.”
Every face was turned to her; most looked astonished. Raphael’s eyes were narrowed. He turned back to the werewolf, slowly. “You can’t have her,” he said. “She trespassed on our ground; therefore she’s ours.”
The werewolf laughed. “I’m so glad you said that,” he said, and launched himself forward. In midair his body rippled, and he was again a wolf, coat bristling, jaws gaping, ready to tear. He struck Raphael square in the chest, and the two went over in a writhing, snarling tangle. With answering howls of rage, the vampires charged the werewolves, who met them head-on in the center of the ballroom.
The noise was like nothing Clary had ever heard. If Bosch’s paintings of hell had come with a soundtrack, they would have sounded like this.
Jace whistled. “Raphael is really having an exceptionally bad night.”
“So what?” Clary had no sympathy for the vampire. “What are we going to do?”
He glanced around. They were pinned in a corner by the churning mass of bodies; though they were being ignored for now, it wouldn’t be for long. Before Clary could voice this thought, Simon suddenly squirmed violently free of her grasp and leaped to the floor. “Simon!” she screamed as he dashed for the corner and a moldering pile of rotted velvet drapes. “Simon, stop !”
Jace’s eyebrows made quizzical peaks. “What is he—” He grabbed for her arm, jerking her back. “Clary, don’t chase the rat. He’s fleeing. That’s what rats do.”
She shot him a furious look. “He’s not a rat. He’s Simon. And he bit Raphael for you, you ungrateful cretin.” She yanked her arm free and dashed after Simon, who was crouched in the folds of the drapes, chittering excitedly and pawing at them. Belatedly realizing what he was trying to tell her, she yanked the drapes aside. They were slimy with mold, but behind them was—
“A door,” she breathed. “You genius rat.”
Simon squeaked modestly as she snatched him up. Jace was right behind her. “A door, eh? Well, does it open?”
She grabbed for the knob and turned to him, crestfallen. “It’s locked. Or stuck.”
Jace threw himself against the door. It didn’t budge. He cursed. “My shoulder will never be the same. I expect you to nurse me back to health.”
“Just break the door down, will you?”
He looked past her with wide eyes. “Clary—”
She turned. A huge wolf had broken away from the melee and was racing toward her, ears flattened to its narrow head. It was huge, gray-black and brindled, with a long lolling red tongue. Clary screamed. Jace threw himself against the door again, still cursing. She reached for her belt, grabbed the dagger, and threw it.
She’d never thrown a weapon before, never even thought of throwing one. The closest she’d come to weaponry before this week was drawing pictures of them, so Clary was more surprised than anyone else, she suspected, when the dagger flew, wobbly but true, and sank into the werewolf’s side.
It yelped, slowing, but three of its comrades were already racing toward them. One paused at the side of the wounded wolf, but the others charged for the door. Clary screamed again as Jace hurled his body against the door a third time. It gave with an explosive shriek of grinding rust and tearing wood. “Three times the charm,” he panted, holding his shoulder. He ducked into the dark space that gaped beyond the broken door, and turned to hold out an impatient hand. “Clary, come on.”
With a gasp she darted after him and flung the door shut, just as two heavy bodies thudded against it. She fumbled for the bolt, but it was gone, torn away where Jace had broken through it.
“Duck,” he said, and as she did, the stele whipped over her head, slicing dark lines into the moldering wood of the door. She craned her neck to see what he’d carved: a curve like a sickle, three parallel lines, a rayed star: To hold against pursuit.
“I lost your dagger,” she confessed. “I’m sorry.”
“It happens.” He pocketed the stele. She could hear the faint thuds as the wolves hurled themselves against the door again and again, but it held. “The rune will keep them back, but not for long. We’d better hurry.”
She looked up. They were in a dank passageway; a narrow set of stairs led up into darkness. The steps were wood, the banisters filmy with dust. Simon thrust his nose out of her jacket pocket, his black button eyes glittering in the dim light. “All right.” She nodded at Jace. “You go first.”
Jace looked as if he wanted to grin but was too tired. “You know how I like to be first. But slowly,” he added. “I’m not sure the stairs can hold our weight.”
Clary wasn’t sure either. The steps creaked and groaned as they ascended, like an old woman complaining about her aches and pains. Clary gripped the banister for balance, and a chunk of it snapped off in her hand, making her squeak and wringing an exhausted chuckle out of Jace. He took her hand. “Here. Steady.”
Simon made a sound that, for a rat, sounded a lot like a snort. Jace didn’t seem to hear it. They were stumbling up the steps as rapidly as they dared. The flight rose in a high spiral, up through the building. They passed landing after landing, but no doors. They had reached the fourth featureless turn when a muffled explosion rocked the stairwell, and a cloud of dust billowed upward.
“They’ve gotten past the door,” Jace said grimly. “Damn—I thought it would hold for longer.”
“Do we run now?” Clary inquired.
“Now we run,” he said, and they thundered up the stairs, which shrieked and wailed under their weight, nails popping like gunfire. They were at the fifth landing now—she could hear the soft thud-thud of the wolves’ paws on the steps far below, or perhaps it was just her imagination. She knew there wasn’t really hot breath on the back of her neck, but the snarls and howls, getting louder as they came closer, were real and terrifying.
The sixth landing rose in front of them and they half-flung themselves onto it. Clary was gasping, her breath sawing painfully in her lungs, but she managed a weak cheer when she saw the door. It was heavy steel, riveted with nails, and propped open with a brick. She barely had time to wonder why when Jace kicked it open, pushed her through, and, following, slammed it shut. She heard a definitive click as it locked behind them. Thank God, she thought.
Then she turned around.
The night sky wheeled above her, scattered with stars like a handful of loose diamonds. It was not black but a clear dark blue, the color of oncoming dawn. They were standing on a bare slate roof turreted with brick chimneys. An old water tower, black with neglect, stood on a raised platform at one end; a heavy tarpaulin concealed a lumpy pile of lumber at the other. “This must be how they get in and out,” Jace said, glancing back at the door. Clary could see him properly now in the pale light, the lines of strain around his eyes like shallow cuts. The blood on his clothes, mostly Raphael’s, looked black. “They fly up here. Not that that does us much good.”
“There might be a fire escape,” Clary suggested. Together they picked their way gingerly to the edge of the roof. Clary had never liked heights, and the ten-floor drop to the street made her stomach spin. So did the sight of the fire escape, a twisted, unusable hunk of metal still clinging to the side of the hotel’s stone facade. “Or not,” she said. She glanced back at the door they had emerged from. It was set into a cabinlike structure in the center of the roof. It was vibrating, the knob jerking wildly. It would only hold for a few more minutes, perhaps less.
Jace pressed the backs of his hands against his eyes. The leaden air bore down on them, making the back of Clary’s neck prickle. She could see the sweat trickling into his collar. She wished, irrelevantly, that it would rain. Rain would burst this heat bubble like a pricked blister.
Jace was muttering to himself. “Think, Wayland, think—”
Something began to take shape in the back of Clary’s mind. A rune danced against the backs of her eyelids: two downward triangles, joined by a single bar—a rune like a pair of wings ….
“That’s it,” Jace breathed, dropping his hands, and for a startled moment Clary wondered if he had read her mind. He looked feverish, his gold-flecked eyes very bright. “I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before.” He dashed to the far end of the roof, then paused and looked back at her. She was still standing dazed, her thoughts full of glimmering shapes. “Come on, Clary.”
She followed him, pushing thoughts of runes from her mind. He had reached the tarpaulin and was tugging at the edge of it. It came away, revealing not junk but sparkling chrome, tooled leather, and gleaming paint. “Motorcycles?”
Jace reached for the nearest one, an enormous dark red Harley with gold flames on the tank and fenders. He swung a leg over it and looked over his shoulder at her. “Get on.”