City of Lost Souls: Chapter One
The Last Council – Part I & II
“How much longer will the verdict take, do you think?” Clary asked. She had no idea how long they’d been waiting, but it felt like ten hours. There were no clocks in Isabelle’s black and hotpink powder-puff bedroom, just piles of clothes, heaps of books, stacks of weapons, a vanity overflowing with sparkling makeup, used brushes, and open drawers spilling lacy slips, sheer tights, and feather boas. It had a certain backstage-at-La-Cage-aux-Folles design aesthetic, but over the past two weeks Clary had spent enough time among the glittering mess to have begun to find it comforting.
Isabelle, standing over by the window with Church in her arms, stroked the cat’s head absently. Church regarded her with baleful yellow eyes. Outside the window a November storm was in full bloom, rain streaking the windows like clear paint. “Not much longer,” she said slowly. She wasn’t wearing any makeup, which made her look younger, her dark eyes bigger.
“Five minutes, probably.”
Clary, sitting on Izzy’s bed between a pile of magazines and a rattling stack of seraph blades, swallowed hard against the bitter taste in her throat. I’ll be back. Five minutes.
That had been the last thing she had said to the boy she loved more than anything else in the world. Now she thought it might be the last thing she would ever get to say to him.
Clary remembered the moment perfectly. The roof garden. The crystalline October night, the stars burning icy white against a cloudless black sky. The paving stones smeared with black runes, spattered with ichor and blood. Jace’s mouth on hers, the only warm thing in a shivering world. Clasping the Morgenstern ring around her neck. The love that moves the sun and all theother stars. Turning to look for him as the elevator took her away, sucking her back down into the shadows of the building. She had joined the others in the lobby, hugging her mother, Luke, Simon, but some part of her, as it always was, had still been with Jace, floating above the city on that rooftop, the two of them alone in the cold and brilliant electric city.
Maryse and Kadir had been the ones to get into the elevator to join Jace on the roof and to see the remains of Lilith’s ritual. It was another ten minutes before Maryse returned, alone.
When the doors had opened and Clary had seen her face—white and set and frantic—she had known.
What had happened next had been like a dream. The crowd of Shadowhunters in the lobby had surged toward Maryse; Alec had broken away from Magnus, and Isabelle had leaped to her feet. White bursts of light cut through the darkness like the soft explosions of camera flashes at a crime scene as, one after another, seraph blades lit the shadows. Pushing her way forward, Clary heard the story in broken pieces—the rooftop garden was empty; Jace was gone. The glass coffin that had held Sebastian had been smashed open; glass was lying everywhere in fragments. Blood, still fresh, dripped down the pedestal on which the coffin had sat.
The Shadowhunters were making plans quickly, to spread out in a radius and search the area around the building. Magnus was there, his hands sparking blue, turning to Clary to ask if she had something of Jace’s they could track him with. Numbly, she gave him the Morgenstern ring and retreated into a corner to call Simon. She had only just closed the phone when the voice of a Shadowhunter rang out above the rest. “Tracking? That’ll work only if he’s still alive. With that much blood it’s not very likely—”
Somehow that was the last straw. Prolonged hypothermia, exhaustion, and shock took their toll, and she felt her knees give. Her mother caught her before she hit the ground. There was a dark blur after that. She woke up the next morning in her bed at Luke’s, sitting bolt upright with her heart going like a trip-hammer, sure she had had a nightmare.
As she struggled out of bed, the fading bruises on her arms and legs told a different story, as did the absence of her ring. Throwing on jeans and a hoodie, she staggered out into the living room to find Jocelyn, Luke, and Simon seated there with somber expressions on their faces. She didn’t even need to ask, but she did anyway: “Did they find him? Is he back?”
Jocelyn stood up. “Sweetheart, he’s still missing—”
“But not dead?” Clary asked wildly. “They haven’t found a body?” She collapsed onto the couch next to Simon. “No—he’s not dead. I’d know.”
She remembered Simon holding her hand while Luke told her what they did know: that Jace was still gone, and so was Sebastian. The bad news was that the blood on the pedestal had been identified as Jace’s. The good news was that there was less of it than they had thought; it had mixed with the water from the coffin to give the impression of a greater volume of blood than there had really been. They now thought it was quite possible he had survived whatever had happened.
“But what happened?” she demanded.
Luke shook his head, blue eyes somber. “Nobody knows, Clary.”
Her veins felt as if her own blood had been replaced with ice water. “I want to help. I want to do something. I don’t want to just sit here while Jace is missing.”
“I wouldn’t worry about that,” Jocelyn said grimly. “The Clave wants to see you.”
Invisible ice cracked in Clary’s joints and tendons as she stood up. “Fine. Whatever. I’ll tell them anything they want if they’ll find Jace.”
“You’ll tell them anything they want because they have the Mortal Sword.” There was despair in Jocelyn’s voice. “Oh, baby. I’m so sorry.”
And now, after two weeks of repetitive testimony, after scores of witnesses has been called, after she had held the Mortal Sword a dozen times, Clary sat in Isabelle’s bedroom and waited for the Council to rule on her fate. She couldn’t help but remember what it had felt like to hold the Mortal Sword. It was like tiny fishhooks embedded in your skin, pulling the truth out of you.
She had knelt, holding it, in the circle of the Speaking Stars and had heard her own voice telling the Council everything: how Valentine had raised the Angel Raziel, and how she had taken the power of controlling the Angel from him by erasing his name in the sand and writing hers over it. She had told them how the Angel had offered her one wish, and she had used it to raise Jace from the dead; she told them how Lilith had possessed Jace and Lilith had planned to use Simon’s blood to resurrect Sebastian, Clary’s brother, whom Lilith regarded as a son. How Simon’s Mark of Cain had ended Lilith, and they had thought Sebastian had been ended too, no
longer a threat.
Clary sighed and flipped her phone open to check the time. “They’ve been in there for an hour,” she said. “Is that normal? Is it a bad sign?”
Isabelle dropped Church, who let out a yowl. She came over to the bed and sat down beside Clary. Isabelle looked even more slender than usual—like Clary, she’d lost weight in the past two weeks—but elegant as always, in black cigarette pants and a fitted gray velvet top. Mascara was smudged all around Izzy’s eyes, which should have made her look like a racoon but just made her look like a French film star instead. She stretched her arms out, and her electrum bracelets with their rune charms jingled musically. “No, it’s not a bad sign,” she said. “It just means they have a lot to talk over.” She twisted the Lightwood ring on her finger. “You’ll be fine. You didn’t break the Law. That’s the important thing.”
Clary sighed. Even the warmth of Isabelle’s shoulder next to hers couldn’t melt the ice in her veins. She knew that technically she had broken no Laws, but she also knew the Clave was furious at her. It was illegal for a Shadowhunter to raise the dead, but not for the Angel to do it; nevertheless it was such an enormous thing she had done in asking for Jace’s life back that she and Jace had agreed to tell no one about it.
Now it was out, and it had rocked the Clave. Clary knew they wanted to punish her, if only because her choice had had such disastrous consequences. In some way she wished they wouldpunish her. Break her bones, pull her fingernails out, let the Silent Brothers root through her brain with their bladed thoughts. A sort of devil’s bargain—her own pain for Jace’s safe return.
“Quit it,” Isabelle said. For a moment Clary wasn’t sure if Isabelle was talking to her or to the cat. Church was doing what he often did when dropped—lying on his back with all four legs in the air, pretending to be dead in order to induce guilt in his owners. But then Isabelle swept her black hair aside, glaring, and Clary realized she was the one being told off, not the cat.
“Morbidly thinking about all the horrible things that are going to happen to you, or that you wish would happen to you because you’re alive and Jace is … missing.” Isabelle’s voice jumped, like a record skipping a groove. She never spoke of Jace as being dead or even gone— she and Alec refused to entertain the possibility. And Isabelle had never reproached Clary once for keeping such an enormous secret, or having done something that had led them, however inadvertently, to the place they were now. Throughout everything, in fact, Isabelle had been herstaunchest defender. Meeting her every day at the door to the Council Hall, she had held Clary
firmly by the arm as she’d marched her past clumps of glaring, muttering Shadowhunters. She had waited through endless Council interrogations, shooting dagger glances at anyone who dared look at Clary sideways. Clary had been astonished. She and Isabelle had never been enormously close, both of them being the sort of girls who were more comfortable with boys than other female companionship. But Isabelle didn’t leave her side. Clary was as bewildered as she was grateful.
“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.