"I can't help it," Clary said. "If I were allowed to patrol-if I were allowed to do anything-I think it wouldn't be so bad."
"I don't know." Isabelle sounded weary. For the past two weeks she and Alec had been exhausted and gray-faced from sixteen-hour patrols and searches. When Clary had found out she was banned from patrolling or searching for Jace in any way until the Council decided what to do about the fact that she had brought him back from the dead, she had kicked a hole in her bedroom door. "Sometimes it feels so futile," Isabelle added.
Ice crackled up and down Clary's bones. "You mean you think he's dead?"
"No, I don't. I mean I think there's no way they're still in New York."
"But they're patrolling in other cities, right?" Clary put a hand to her throat, forgetting that the Morgenstern ring no longer hung there. Magnus was still trying to track Jace, though no tracking had yet worked.
"Of course they are." Isabelle reached out curiously and touched the delicate silver bell that hung around Clary's neck now, in place of the ring. "What's that?"
Clary hesitated. The bell had been a gift from the Seelie Queen. No, that wasn't quite right. The Queen of the faeries didn't give gifts. The bell was meant to signal the Seelie Queen that Clary wanted her help. Clary had found her hand wandering to it more and more often as the days dragged on with no sign of Jace. The only thing that stopped Clary was the knowledge that the Seelie Queen never gave anything without the expectation of something terrible in return.
Before Clary could reply to Isabelle, the door opened. Both girls sat up ramrod straight, Clary clutching one of Izzy's pink pillows so hard that the rhinestones on it dug into the skin of her palms.
"Hey." A slim figure stepped into the room and shut the door. Alec, Isabelle's older brother, was dressed in Council wear-a black robe figured with silver runes, open now over jeans and a long-sleeved black T-shirt. All the black made his pale skin look paler, his crystal-blue eyes bluer. His hair was black and straight like his sister's, but shorter, cut just above his jawline. His mouth was set in a thin line.
Clary's heart started to pound. Alec didn't look happy. Whatever the news was, it couldn't be good.
It was Isabelle who spoke. "How did it go?" she said quietly. "What's the verdict?"
Alec sat down at the vanity table, swinging himself around the chair to face Izzy and Clary over the back. At another time it would have been comical-Alec was very tall, with long legs like a dancer, and the way he folded himself awkwardly around the chair made it look like dollhouse furniture.
"Clary," he said. "Jia Penhallow handed down the verdict. You're cleared of any wrongdoing. You broke no Laws, and Jia feels that you've been punished enough."
Isabelle exhaled an audible breath and smiled. For just a moment a feeling of relief broke through the layer of ice over all of Clary's emotions. She wasn't going to be punished, locked up in the Silent City, trapped somewhere where she couldn't help Jace. Luke, who as the representative of the werewolves on the Council had been present for the verdict, had promised to call Jocelyn as soon as the meeting ended, but Clary reached for her phone anyway; the prospect of giving her mother good news for a change was too tempting.
"Clary," Alec said as she flipped her phone open. "Wait."
She looked at him. His expression was still as serious as an undertaker's. With a sudden sense of foreboding, Clary put her phone back down on the bed. "Alec-what is it?"
"It wasn't your verdict that took the Council so long," said Alec. "There was another matter under discussion."
The ice was back. Clary shivered. "Jace?"
"Not exactly." Alec leaned forward, folding his hands along the back of the chair. "A report came in early this morning from the Moscow Institute. The wardings over Wrangel Island were smashed through yesterday. They've sent a repair team, but having such important wards down for so long-that's a Council priority."
Wards-which served, as Clary understood it, as a sort of magical fence system-surrounded Earth, put there by the first generation of Shadowhunters. They could be bypassed by demons but not easily, and kept out the vast majority of them, preventing the world from being flooded by a massive demon invasion. She remembered something that Jace had said to her, what felt like years ago: There used to be only small demon invasions into this world, easily contained. But even in my lifetime more and more of them have spilled in through the wardings.
"Well, that's bad," Clary said. "But I don't see what it has to do with-"
"The Clave has its priorities," Alec interrupted. "Searching for Jace and Sebastian has been top priority for the past two weeks. But they've scoured everything, and there's no sign of either of them in any Downworld haunt. None of Magnus's tracking spells have worked. Elodie, the woman who brought up the real Sebastian Verlac, confirmed that no one's tried to get in touch with her. That was a long shot, anyway. No spies have reported any unusual activity among the known members of Valentine's old Circle. And the Silent Brothers haven't been able to figure out exactly what the ritual Lilith performed was supposed to do, or whether it succeeded. The general consensus is that Sebastian-of course, they call him Jonathan when they talk about him-kidnapped Jace, but that's not anything we didn't know."
"So?" Isabelle said. "What does that mean? More searching? More patrolling?"
Alec shook his head. "They're not discussing expanding the search," he said quietly. "They're de-prioritizing it. It's been two weeks and they haven't found anything. The specially commissioned groups brought over from Idris are going to be sent home. The situation with the ward is taking priority now. Not to mention that the Council has been in the middle of delicate negotiations, updating the Laws to allow for the new makeup of the Council, appointing a new Consul and Inquisitor, determining different treatment of Downworlders-they don't want to be thrown completely off track."
Clary stared. "They don't want Jace's disappearance to throw them off the track of changing a bunch of stupid old Laws? They're giving up?"
"They're not giving up-"
"Alec," Isabelle said sharply.
Alec took a breath and put his hands up to cover his face. He had long fingers, like Jace's, scarred like Jace's were as well. The eye Mark of the Shadowhunters decorated the back of his right hand. "Clary, for you-for us-this has always been about searching for Jace. For the Clave it's about searching for Sebastian. Jace as well, but primarily Sebastian. He's the danger. He destroyed the wards of Alicante. He's a mass murderer. Jace is..."
"Just another Shadowhunter," said Isabelle. "We die and go missing all the time."
"He gets a little extra for being a hero of the Mortal War," said Alec. "But in the end the Clave was clear: The search will be kept up, but right now it's a waiting game. They expect Sebastian to make the next move. In the meantime it's third priority for the Clave. If that. They expect us to go back to normal life."
Normal life? Clary couldn't believe it. A normal life without Jace?
"That's what they told us after Max died," said Izzy, her black eyes tearless but burning with anger. "That we'd get over our grief faster if we just went back to normal life."
"It's supposed to be good advice," said Alec from behind his fingers.
"Tell that to Dad. Did he even come back from Idris for the meeting?"
Alec shook his head, dropping his hands. "No. If it's any consolation, there were a lot of people at the meeting speaking out angrily on behalf of keeping the search for Jace up at full strength. Magnus, obviously, Luke, Consul Penhallow, even Brother Zachariah. But at the end of the day it wasn't enough."
Clary looked at him steadily. "Alec," she said. "Don't you feel anything?"
Alec's eyes widened, their blue darkening, and for a moment Clary remembered the boy who had hated her when she'd first arrived at the Institute, the boy with bitten nails and holes in his sweaters and a chip on his shoulder that had seemed immovable. "I know you're upset, Clary," he said, his voice sharp, "but if you're suggesting that Iz and I care less about Jace than you do-"
"I'm not," Clary said. "I'm talking about your parabatai connection. I was reading about the ceremony in the Codex. I know being parabatai ties the two of you together. You can sense things about Jace. Things that will help you when you're fighting. So I guess I mean... can you sense if he's still alive?"
"Clary." Isabelle sounded worried. "I thought you didn't..."
"He's alive," Alec said cautiously. "You think I'd be this functional if he weren't alive? There's definitely something fundamentally wrong. I can feel that much. But he's still breathing."
"Could the 'wrong' thing be that he's being held prisoner?" said Clary in a small voice.
Alec looked toward the windows, the sheeting gray rain. "Maybe. I can't explain it. I've never felt anything like it before."
"But he's alive."
Alec looked at her directly then. "I'm sure of it."
"Then screw the Council. We'll find him ourselves," Clary said.
"Clary... if that were possible... don't you think we already would have-," Alec began.
"We were doing what the Clave wanted us to do before," said Isabelle. "Patrols, searches. There are other ways."
"Ways that break the Law, you mean," said Alec. He sounded hesitant. Clary hoped he wasn't going to repeat the Shadowhunters' motto when it came to the Law: Sed lex, dura lex. "The Law is harsh, but it is the Law." She didn't think she could take it.
"The Seelie Queen offered me a favor," Clary said. "At the fireworks party in Idris." The memory of that night, how happy she'd been, made her heart contract for a moment, and she had to stop and regain her breath. "And a way to contact her."
"The Queen of the Fair Folk gives nothing for free."
"I know that. I'll take whatever debt it is on my shoulders." Clary remembered the words of the faerie girl who had handed her the bell. You would do anything to save him, whatever it cost you, whatever you might owe to Hell or Heaven, would you not? "I just want one of you to come with me. I'm not good with translating faerie-speak. At least if you're with me you can limit whatever the damage is. But if there's anything she can do-"
"I'll go with you," Isabelle said immediately.
Alec looked at his sister darkly. "We already talked to the Fair Folk. The Council questioned them extensively. And they can't lie."
"The Council asked them if they knew where Jace and Sebastian were," Clary said. "Not if they'd be willing to look for them. The Seelie Queen knew about my father, knew about the angel he summoned and trapped, knew the truth about my blood and Jace's. I think there's not much that happens in this world that she doesn't know about."
"It's true," said Isabelle, a little animation entering into her voice. "You know you have to ask faeries the exact right things to get useful information out of them, Alec. They're very hard to question, even if they do have to tell the truth. A favor, though, is different."
"And its potential for danger is literally unlimited," said Alec. "If Jace knew I let Clary go to the Seelie Queen, he'd-"
"I don't care," Clary said. "He'd do it for me. Tell me he wouldn't. If I were missing-"
"He'd burn the whole world down till he could dig you out of the ashes. I know," Alec said, sounding exhausted. "Hell, you think I don't want to burn down the world right now? I'm just trying to be..."
"An older brother," said Isabelle. "I get it."
Alec looked as if he were fighting for control. "If something happened to you, Isabelle-after Max, and Jace-"
Izzy got to her feet, went across the room, and put her arms around Alec. Their dark hair, precisely the same color, mixed together as Isabelle whispered something into her brother's ear; Clary watched them with not a little envy. She had always wanted a brother. And she had one now. Sebastian. It was like always wanting a puppy for a pet and being handed a hellhound instead. She watched as Alec tugged his sister's hair affectionately, nodded, and released her. "We should all go," he said. "But I have to tell Magnus, at least, what we're doing. It wouldn't be fair not to."
"Do you want to use my phone?" Isabelle asked, offering the battered pink object to him.
Alec shook his head. "He's waiting downstairs with the others. You'll have to give Luke some kind of excuse too, Clary. I'm sure he's expecting you to go home with him. And he says your mother's been pretty sick about this whole thing."
"She blames herself for Sebastian's existence." Clary got to her feet. "Even though she thought he was dead all those years."
"It's not her fault." Isabelle pulled her golden whip down from where it hung on the wall and wrapped it around her wrist so that it looked like a ladder of shining bracelets. "No one blames her."
"That never matters," said Alec. "Not when you blame yourself."
In silence, the three of them made their way through the corridors of the Institute, oddly crowded now with other Shadowhunters, some of whom were part of the special commissions that had been sent out from Idris to deal with the situation. None of them really looked at Isabelle, Alec, or Clary with much curiosity. Initially Clary had felt so much as if she were being stared at-and had heard the whispered words "Valentine's daughter" so many times-that she'd started to dread coming to the Institute, but she'd stood up in front of the Council enough times now that the novelty had worn off.
They took the elevator downstairs; the nave of the Institute was brightly lit with witchlight as well as the usual tapers and was filled with Council members and their families. Luke and Magnus were sitting in a pew, talking to each other; beside Luke was a tall, blue-eyed woman who looked just like him. She had curled her hair and dyed the gray brown, but Clary still recognized her-Luke's sister, Amatis.
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com