- City of Bones
She backed out of the room. There was nothing on this floor that could help her. She limped down the corridor—she was beginning to feel the ache of true exhaustion in her legs and arms—and found herself at the junction of the stairs. Up or down? Down, she recalled, had been lightless, empty. Of course, there was the witchlight in her pocket, but something in her quailed at the thought of entering those black spaces alone. Upstairs she saw the blaze of more lights, caught a flicker of something that might have been movement.
She went up. Her legs hurt, her feet hurt, everything hurt. Her cuts had been bandaged, but that didn’t stop them from stinging. Her face ached where Hugo had slashed her cheek, and her mouth tasted metallic and bitter.
She reached the last landing. It was curved gently like the bow of a ship, as silent here as it had been downstairs; no sound of the fighting outside reached her ears. Another long corridor stretched out in front of her, with the same multiple doors, but here some were open, spilling even more light out into the hallway. She went forward, and some instinct drew her to the last door on her left. Cautiously she glanced inside.
At first the room reminded her of one of the period reconstruction displays in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was as if she had stepped into the past—the paneled walls gleamed as if recently polished, as did the endlessly long dining table set with delicate china. An ornate gold-framed mirror adorned the far wall, between two oil portraits in heavy frames. Everything glittered under the torchlight: the plates on the table, heaped with food, the fluted glasses shaped like calla lilies, the linens so white they were blinding. At the end of the room were two wide windows, draped with swags of heavy velvet. Jace stood at one of the windows, so still that for a moment she imagined he was a statue, until she realized she could see the light shining on his hair. His left hand held the curtain aside, and in the dark window she saw the reflection of the dozens of candles inside the room, trapped in the glass like fireflies.
“Jace,” she said. She heard her own voice as if from a distance: astonishment, gratitude, longing so sharp it was painful. He turned, dropping the curtain, and she saw the wondering look on his face.
“Jace!” she said again, and ran toward him. He caught her as she flung herself at him. His arms wrapped tightly around her.
“Clary.” His voice was almost unrecognizable. “Clary, what are you doing here?”
Her voice was muffled against his shirt. “I came for you.”
“You shouldn’t have.” His grip on her loosened suddenly; he stepped back, holding her a little away from him. “My God,” he said, touching her face. “You idiot, what a thing to do.” His voice was angry, but the gaze that swept her face, the fingers that gently brushed her hair back, were tender. She had never seen him look like this; there was a sort of fragility about him, as if he might be not just touched but hurt, even. “Why don’t you ever think?” he whispered.
“I was thinking,” she said. “I was thinking about you.”
He closed his eyes for a moment. “If anything had happened to you …” His hands traced the line of her arms gently, down to her wrists, as if to reassure himself that she was really there. “How did you find me?”
“Luke,” she replied. “I came with Luke. To rescue you.”
Still holding her, he glanced from her face to the window, a slight frown curling the edge of his mouth. “So those are—you came with the wolf clan?” he asked, an odd tone in his voice.
“Luke’s,” she said. “He’s a werewolf, and—”
“I know.” Jace cut her off. “I should have guessed—the manacles.” He glanced toward the door. “Where is he?”
“Downstairs,” said Clary slowly. “He killed Blackwell. I came up to look for you—”
“He’s going to have to call them off,” said Jace.
She looked at him uncomprehendingly. “What?”
“Luke,” said Jace. “He’s going to have to call off his pack. There’s been a misunderstanding.”
“What, you kidnapped yourself?” She’d meant to sound teasing, but her voice was too thin. “Come on, Jace.”
She yanked at his wrist, but he resisted. He was looking at her intently, and she realized with a jolt what she had not noticed in her first rush of relief.
The last time she had seen him, he’d been cut and bruised, clothes stained with dirt and blood, his hair filthy with ichor and dust. Now he was dressed in a loose white shirt and dark pants, his scrubbed hair falling all around his face, pale gold and flyaway. He swept a few strands out of his eyes with a slim hand, and she saw that his heavy silver ring was back on his finger.
“Are those your clothes?” she asked, baffled. “And—you’re all bandaged up …” Her voice trailed off. “Valentine seems to be taking awfully good care of you.”
He smiled at her with a weary affection. “If I told you the truth, you’d say I was crazy,” he said.
She felt her heart flutter hard against the inside of her chest, like a hummingbird’s rapid wing beat. “No, I wouldn’t.”
“My father gave me these clothes,” he said.
The flutter became a rapid pounding. “Jace,” she said carefully, “your father is dead.”
“No.” He shook his head. She had the sense that he was holding back some enormous feeling, like horror or delight—or both. “I thought he was, but he isn’t. It’s all been a mistake.”
She remembered what Hodge had said about Valentine and his ability to tell charming and convincing lies. “Is this something Valentine told you? Because he’s a liar, Jace. Remember what Hodge said. If he’s telling you your father is alive, it’s a lie to get you to do what he wants.”
“I’ve seen my father,” said Jace. “I’ve talked to him. He gave me this.” He tugged on the new, clean shirt, as if it were ineluctable proof. “My father isn’t dead. Valentine didn’t kill him. Hodge lied to me. All these years I thought he was dead, but he wasn’t.”
Clary glanced around wildly, at the room with its shining china and guttering torches and empty, glaring mirrors. “Well, if your father’s really in this place, then where is he? Did Valentine kidnap him, too?”
Jace’s eyes were shining. The neck of his shirt was open and she could see the thin white scars that covered his collarbone, like cracks in the smooth golden skin. “My father—”
The door of the room, which Clary had shut behind her, opened with a creak, and a man walked into the room.
It was Valentine. His silvery close-cropped hair gleamed like a polished steel helmet and his mouth was hard. He wore a waist sheath on his thick belt and the hilt of a long sword protruded from the top of it. “So,” he said, resting a hand on the hilt as he spoke, “have you gathered your things? Our Forsaken can hold off the wolf-men for only so—”
Seeing Clary, he broke off midsentence. He was not the sort of man who was ever really caught off guard, but she saw the flicker of astonishment in his eyes. “What is this?” he asked, turning his glance to Jace.
But Clary was already fumbling at her waist for the dagger. She seized it by the hilt, jerking it out of its scabbard, and drew her hand back. Rage pounded behind her eyes like a drumbeat. She could kill this man. She would kill him.
Jace caught at her wrist. “No.”
She could not contain her disbelief. “But, Jace—”
“Clary,” he said firmly. “This is my father.”
“I SEE I’VE INTERRUPTED SOMETHING,” SAID VALENTINE, HIS voice as dry as a desert afternoon. “Son, would you care to tell me who this is? One of the Lightwood children, perhaps?”
“No,” said Jace. He sounded tired and unhappy, but the hand on her wrist didn’t loosen. “This is Clary. Clarissa Fray. She’s a friend of mine. She—”
Valentine’s black eyes raked her slowly, from the top of her disheveled head to the toes of her scuffed sneakers. They fastened on the dagger still gripped in her hand.
An indefinable look passed over his face—part amusement, part irritation. “Where did you come by that blade, young lady?”
Clary answered coldly. “Jace gave it to me.”
“Of course he did,” said Valentine. His tone was mild. “May I see it?”
“No!” Clary took a step back, as if she thought he might lunge at her, and felt the blade plucked neatly out of her fingers. Jace, holding the dagger, looked at her with an apologetic expression. “Jace,” she hissed, putting every ounce of the betrayal she felt into the single syllable of his name.
All he said was, “You still don’t understand, Clary.” With a sort of deferential care that made her feel sick to her stomach, he went to Valentine and handed him the dagger. “Here you go, Father.”
Valentine took the dagger in his big, long-boned hand and examined it. “This is a kindjal, a Circassian dagger. This particular one used to be one of a matched pair. Here, see the star of the Morgensterns, carved into the blade.” He turned it over, showing it to Jace. “I’m surprised the Lightwoods never noticed it.”
“I never showed it to them,” said Jace. “They let me have my own private things. They didn’t pry.”
“Of course they didn’t,” said Valentine. He handed the kindjal back to Jace. “They thought you were Michael Wayland’s son.”
Jace, sliding the red-hilted dagger into his belt, looked up. “So did I,” he said softly, and in that moment Clary saw that this was no joke, that Jace was not just playing along for his own purposes. He really thought Valentine was his father returned to him.
A cold despair was spreading through Clary’s veins. Jace angry, Jace hostile, furious, she could have dealt with, but this new Jace, fragile and shining in the light of his own personal miracle, was a stranger to her.
Valentine looked at her over Jace’s tawny head; his eyes were cool with amusement. “Perhaps,” he said, “it would be a good idea for you to sit down now, Clary?”
She crossed her arms stubbornly over her chest. “No.”
“As you like.” Valentine pulled out a chair and seated himself at the head of the table. After a moment Jace sat down as well, beside a half-filled bottle of wine. “But you are going to be hearing some things that might make you wish you had taken a chair.”
“I’ll let you know,” Clary told him, “if that happens.”
“Very well.” Valentine sat back, his hands behind his head. The neck of his shirt gaped open a little, showing his scarred collarbones. Scarred, like his son’s, like all the Nephilim. A life of scars and killing, Hodge had said. “Clary,” he said again, as if tasting the sound of her name. “Short for Clarissa? Not a name I would have chosen.”
There was a grim curl to his lips. He knows I’m his daughter, Clary thought. Somehow, he knows. But he isn’t saying it. Why isn’t he saying it?
Because of Jace, she realized. Jace would think—she couldn’t imagine what he would think. Valentine had seen them embracing when he’d walked in the door. He must know he held a devastating piece of information in his hands. Somewhere behind those fathomless black eyes, his sharp mind was clicking away rapidly, trying to decide how best to use what he knew.
She cast another beseeching glance at Jace, but he was staring down at the wineglass by his left hand, half-full of purplish red liquid. She could see the rapid rise and fall of his chest as he breathed; he was more upset than he was letting on.
“I don’t really care what you would have chosen,” Clary said.
“I am sure,” replied Valentine, leaning forward, “that you don’t.”
“You’re not Jace’s father,” she said. “You’re trying to trick us. Jace’s father was Michael Wayland. The Lightwoods know it. Everyone knows it.”
“The Lightwoods were misinformed,” said Valentine. “They truly believed—believe that Jace is the son of their friend Michael. As does the Clave. Even the Silent Brothers do not know who he really is. Although soon enough, they will.”
“But the Wayland ring—”
“Ah, yes,” said Valentine, looking at Jace’s hand, where the ring glittered like snake scales. “The ring. Funny, isn’t it, how an M worn upside down resembles a W? Of course, if you’d bothered to think about it, you’d probably have thought it a little strange that the symbol of the Wayland family would be a falling star. But not at all strange that it would be the symbol of the Morgensterns.”
Clary stared. “I have no idea what you mean.”
“I forget how regrettably lax mundane education is,” Valentine said. “Morgenstern means ‘morning star.’ As in ‘How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!’”
A small shiver passed over Clary. “You mean Satan.”
“Or any great power lost,” said Valentine, “out of a refusal to serve. As mine was. I would not serve a corrupt government, and for that I lost my family, my lands, almost my life—”
“The Uprising was your fault !” snapped Clary. “People died in it! Shadowhunters like you!”
“Clary.” Jace leaned forward, nearly knocking over the glass at his elbow. “Just listen to him, will you? It’s not like you thought. Hodge lied to us.”
“I know,” said Clary. “He betrayed us to Valentine. He was Valentine’s pawn.”
“No,” said Jace. “No, Hodge was the one who wanted the Mortal Cup all along. He was the one who sent the Raveners after your mother. My father—Valentine only found out about it afterward, and came to stop him. He brought your mother here to heal her, not to hurt her.”