Font Size:  

"That was for Jocelyn," said Sebastian.

Clary looked up. "What?"

"All the modern stuff. The appliances. And the clothes. Like that shirt you're wearing. They were for our mother. In case she decided to come back." Sebastian's dark eyes met hers. She felt a little sick. This is my brother, and we're talking about our parents. She felt dizzy-too much happening too fast to take in, to process. She had never had time to think about Sebastian as her living, breathing brother. By the time she'd found out who he really was, he'd been dead.

"Sorry if it's weird," Jace said apologetically, indicating her shirt. "We can buy you some other clothes."

Clary touched the sleeve lightly. The fabric was silky, fine, expensive. Well, that explained that-everything close to her size, everything in colors that suited her. Because she looked just like her mother.

She took a deep breath. "It's fine," she said. "It's just-What do you do exactly? Just travel around inside this apartment and..."

"See the world?" Jace said lightly. "There's worse things."

"But you can't do that forever."

Sebastian hadn't eaten much, but he'd drunk two glasses of wine. He was on his third, and his eyes were glittering. "Why not?"

"Well, because-because the Clave is looking for both of you, and you can't spend forever running and hiding..." Clary's voice trailed off as she looked from one of them to the other. They were sharing a look-the look of two people who knew something, together, that no one else did. It was not a look Jace had shared with someone else in front of her in a very long time.

Sebastian spoke softly and slowly. "Are you asking a question or making an observation?"

"She has a right to know our plans," Jace said. "She came here knowing she couldn't go back."

"A leap of faith," said Sebastian, running his finger around the rim of his glass. It was something Clary had seen Valentine do. "In you. She loves you. That's why she's here. Isn't it?"

"So what if it is?" Clary said. She supposed she could pretend there was another reason, but Sebastian's eyes were dark and sharp, and she doubted he'd believe her. "I trust Jace."

"But not me," Sebastian said.

Clary chose her next words with extreme care. "If Jace trusts you, then I want to trust you," she said. "And you're my brother. That counts for something." The lie tasted bitter in her mouth. "But I don't really know you."

"Then, maybe you should spend a little time getting to know me," Sebastian said. "And then we'll tell you our plans."

We'll tell you. Our plans. In his mind there was a him and Jace; there was no Jace and Clary.

"I don't like keeping her in the dark," Jace said.

"We'll tell her in a week. What difference does a week make?"

Jace gave him a look. "Two weeks ago you were dead."

"Well, I wasn't suggesting two weeks," said Sebastian. "That would be insane."

Jace's mouth quirked up at the corner. He looked at Clary.

"I'm willing to wait for you to trust me," she said, knowing it was the right, smart thing to say. Hating to say it. "However long it takes."

"A week," Jace said.

"A week," agreed Sebastian. "And that means she stays here in the apartment. No communication with anyone. No unlocking the door for her, no going in and out."

Jace leaned back. "What if I'm with her?"

Sebastian gave him a long look from under lowered eyelashes. His look was calculating. He was deciding what he was going to allow Jace to do, Clary realized. He was deciding how much leash to give his "brother." "Fine," he said at last, his voice rich with condescension. "If you're with her."

Clary looked down at her wineglass. She heard Jace reply in a mumur but couldn't look at him. The idea of a Jace who was allowed to do things-Jace, who always did whatever he wanted-made her sick to her stomach. She wanted to get up and smash the wine bottle over Sebastian's head, but she knew it was impossible. Cut one, and the other bleeds.

"How's the wine?" It was Sebastian's voice, an undercurrent of amusement plain in his tone.

She drained the glass, choking on the bitter flavor. "Delicious."

Isabelle emerged in an alien landscape. A deep green plain swept out before her under a lowering gray-black sky. Isabelle pulled up the hood of her gear and peered out, fascinated. She had never seen such a great, overarching expanse of sky, or such a vast plain-it was shimmering, jewel-toned, the shade of moss. As Isabelle took a step forward, she realized it was moss, growing on and around the black rocks scattered across the coal-colored earth.

"It's a volcanic plain," Jocelyn said. She was standing beside Isabelle, and the wind was pulling red-gold strands of her hair out of its tightly pinned bun. She looked so much like Clary that it was eerie. "These were lava beds once. The whole area is probably volcanic to some degree. Working with adamas, the Sisters need incredible heat for their forges."

"You'd think it would be a little warmer, then," Isabelle muttered.

Jocelyn cast her a dry look, and started walking, in what seemed to Isabelle a randomly chosen direction. She scrambled to follow. "Sometimes you're so much like your mother you astound me a little, Isabelle."

"I take that as a compliment." Isabelle narrowed her eyes. No one insulted her family.

"It wasn't meant as an insult."

Isabelle kept her eyes on the horizon, where the dark sky met the jewel-green ground. "How well did you know my parents?"

Jocelyn gave her a quick sideways look. "Well enough, when we were all in Idris together. I hadn't seen them for years until recently."

"Did you know them when they got married?"

The path Jocelyn was taking had begun to slant uphill, so her reply was slightly breathless. "Yes."

"Were they... in love?"

Jocelyn stopped short and turned to look at Isabelle. "Isabelle, what is this about?"

"Love?" Isabelle suggested, after a moment's pause.

"I don't know why you'd think I'd be an expert on that."

"Well, you managed to keep Luke hanging around for his whole life, basically, before you agreed to marry him. That's impressive. I wish I had that kind of power over a guy."

"You do," said Jocelyn. "Have it, I mean. And it isn't something to wish for." She pushed her hands up through her hair, and Isabelle felt a little jolt. For all that Jocelyn looked like her daughter, her thin long hands, flexible and delicate, were Sebastian's. Isabelle remembered slicing one of those hands off, in a valley in Idris, her whip cutting through skin and bone. "Your parents aren't perfect, Isabelle, because no one's perfect. They're complicated people. And they just lost a child. So if this is about your father staying in Idris-"

"My father cheated on my mother," Isabelle blurted out, and nearly covered her own mouth with her hand. She had kept this secret, kept it for years, and to say it out loud to Jocelyn seemed like a betrayal, despite everything.

Jocelyn's face changed. It held sympathy now. "I know."

Isabelle took a sharp breath. "Does everyone know?"

Jocelyn shook her head. "No. A few people. I was... in a privileged position to know. I can't say more than that."

"Who was it?" Isabelle demanded. "Who did he cheat on her with?"

"It was no one you know, Isabelle-"

"You don't know who I know!" Isabelle's voice rose. "And stop saying my name that way, as if I'm a little kid."

"It's not my place to tell you," Jocelyn said flatly, and began to walk again.

Isabelle scrambled after her, even as the path took a steeper turn upward, a wall of green rising to meet the thunderous sky. "I have every right to know. They're my parents. And if you don't tell me, I-"

She stopped, inhaling sharply. They had reached the top of the ridge, and somehow, in front of them, a fortress had sprung like a fast-blooming flower out of the ground. It was carved of white-silver adamas, reflecting the cloud-streaked sky. Towers topped with electrum reached toward the sky, and the fortress was surrounded by a high wall, also of adamas, in which was set a single gate, formed of two great blades plunged into the ground at angles, so that they resembled a monstrous pair of scissors.

"The Adamant Citadel," said Jocelyn.

"Thanks," Isabelle snapped. "I figured that out."

Jocelyn made the noise that Isabelle was familiar with from her own parents. Isabelle was pretty sure it was parent-speak for "Teenagers." Then Jocelyn started down the hill to the fortress. Isabelle, tired of scrambling, stalked ahead of her. She was taller than Clary's mother and had longer legs, and saw no reason why she should wait for Jocelyn if the other woman was going to persist in treating her like a child. She stomped down the hill, crushing moss under her boots, ducked through the scissorlike gates-

And froze. She was standing on a small outcropping of rock. In front of her the earth dropped away into a vast chasm, at the bottom of which boiled a river of red-gold lava, encircling the fortress. Across the chasm, much too far to jump-even for a Shadowhunter-was the only visible entrance to the fortress, a closed drawbridge.

"Some things," said Jocelyn at her elbow, "are not as simple as they first appear."

Isabelle jumped, then glared. "So not the place to sneak up on someone."

Jocelyn simply crossed her arms over her chest and raised her eyebrows. "Surely Hodge taught you the proper method of approaching the Adamant Citadel," she said. "After all, it is open to all female Shadowhunters in good standing with the Clave."

"Of course he did," said Isabelle haughtily, scrambling mentally to remember. Only those with Nephilim blood... She reached up and took one of the metal chopsticks from her hair. When she twisted its base, it popped and clicked and unfolded into a dagger with a Rune of Courage on the blade.

Isabelle raised her hands over the chasm. "Ignis aurum probat," she said, and used the dagger to cut open her left palm; it was a swift searing pain, and blood ran from the cut, a ruby stream that splattered into the chasm below. There was a flash of blue light, and a creaking noise. The drawbridge was slowly lowering.

Isabelle smiled and wiped the blade of her knife on her gear. After another twist, it had become a slim metal chopstick again. She slid it back into her hair.

"Do you know what that means?" asked Jocelyn, her eyes on the lowering bridge.


"What you just said. The motto of the Iron Sisters."

The drawbridge was almost flat. "It means 'Fire tests gold.'"

"Right," said Jocelyn. "They don't just mean forges and metalwork. They mean that adversity tests one's strength of character. In difficult times, in dark times, some people shine."

"Oh, yeah?" said Izzy. "Well, I'm sick of dark and difficult times. Maybe I don't want to shine."

The drawbridge crashed at their feet. "If you're anything like your mother," said Jocelyn, "you won't be able to help it."

Chapter 9 : The Iron Sisters

Alec raised the witchlight rune-stone high in his hand, brilliant light raying out from it, spotlighting now one corner of the City Hall station and then another. He jumped as a mouse squeaked, running across the dusty platform. He was a Shadowhunter; he had been in many dark places, but there was something about the abandoned air of this station that made a cold shiver run up his spine.

Perhaps it was the chill of disloyalty he had felt, slipping away from his guard post on Staten Island and heading down the hill to the ferry the moment Magnus had left. He hadn't thought about what he was doing; he'd just done it, as if he were on autopilot. If he hurried, he was sure he could be back before Isabelle and Jocelyn returned, before anyone realized he had ever been gone.

Alec raised his voice. "Camille!" he called. "Camille Belcourt!"

He heard a light laugh; it echoed off the walls of the station. Then she was there, at the top of the stairs, the brilliance of his witchlight rendering her a silhouette. "Alexander Lightwood," she said. "Come upstairs."

She vanished. Alec followed his darting witchlight up the steps, and found Camille where he had before, in the lobby of the station. She was dressed in the fashion of a bygone era-a long velvet dress nipped in at the waist, her hair dressed high in white-blond curls, her lips dark red. He supposed she was beautiful, though he wasn't the best judge of feminine appeal, and it didn't help that he hated her.

"What's with the costume?" he demanded.

She smiled. Her skin was very smooth and white, without dark lines-she had fed recently. "A masquerade ball downtown. I fed quite well. Why are you here, Alexander? Starved for good conversation?"

If he were Jace, Alec thought, he'd have a smart remark for that, some kind of pun or cleverly disguised put-down. Alec just bit his lip and said, "You told me to come back if I was interested in what you were offering."

She ran a hand along the back of the divan, the only piece of furniture in the room. "And you've decided that you are."

Alec nodded.

She chuckled. "You understand what you're asking for?"

Alec's heart was pounding. He wondered if Camille could hear it. "You said you could make Magnus mortal. Like me."

Her full lips thinned. "I did," she said. "I must admit, I doubted your interest. You left rather hastily."

"Don't play with me," he said. "I don't want what you're offering that badly."

"Liar," she said casually. "Or you wouldn't be here." She moved around the divan, coming close to him, her eyes raking his face. "Up close," she said, "you do not look so much like Will as I had thought. You have his coloring, but a different shape to your face... perhaps a slight weakness to your jaw-"

"Shut up," he said. Okay, it wasn't Jace-level wit, but it was something. "I don't want to hear about Will."