Font Size:  

He wanted to pull her down and kiss her-not bite her, just kiss her-but at that exact moment the apartment door buzzer sounded. A second later, someone knocked on the bedroom door-banged on it, really, making it shake on its hinges.

"Simon. Isabelle." It was Magnus. "Look, I don't care if you're asleep or doing unspeakable things to each other. Get dressed and come out to the living room. Now."

Simon locked gazes with Isabelle, who looked as puzzled as he did. "What's going on?"

"Just get out here," Magnus said, and the sound of his retreating feet was loud as he stalked away from their room.

Isabelle rolled off Simon, much to his disappointment, and sighed. "What do you think it is?"

"No idea," said Simon. "Emergency meeting of Team Good, I guess." He'd found the phrase amusing when Clary had used it. Isabelle, though, just shook her head and sighed.

"I'm not sure there is any such thing as Team Good these days," she said.

Chapter 13: The Bone Chandelier

As the serpent's head drove down toward Clary, a shining blur slashed across it, almost blinding her. A seraph blade, its shimmering knife edge slicing the demon's head cleanly off. The head crumpled, spraying venom and ichor; Clary rolled to one side, but some of the toxic substance splattered onto her torso. The demon vanished before its two halves could strike the floor. Clary bit down on her cry of pain and moved to get to her feet. A hand was suddenly thrust into her field of vision-an offer to pull her to her feet. Jace, she thought, but as she looked up, she realized she was staring at her brother.

"Come on," said Sebastian, his hand still out. "There are more of them."

She grabbed his hand and let him lift her to her feet. He was splattered with demon blood too-blackish-green stuff that burned where it touched, leaving scorched patches on his clothing. As she stared at him, one of the snake-headed things-Elapid demons, she realized belatedly, remembering an illustration in a book-reared up behind him, its neck flattening out like a cobra's. Without thinking, Clary grabbed his shoulder and shoved him out of the way, hard; he staggered back as the demon struck, and Clary rose to meet it with the dagger she had yanked from her belt. She turned her body aside as she drove the dagger home, avoiding the creature's fangs; its hiss turned to a gurgle as the blade sank in and she dragged it down, gutting the creature open the way someone might gut a fish. Burning demon blood exploded over her hand in a hot torrent. She screamed but kept her grip on the dagger as the Elapid winked out of existence.

She whirled around. Sebastian was fighting another of the Elapids by the door of the shop; Jace was fending off two next to a display of antique ceramics. Shards of pottery littered the floor. Clary swung her arm back and threw the dagger, as Jace had taught her to. It soared through the air and struck one of the creatures in the side, sending it jittering and squeaking away from Jace. Jace whirled around and, seeing her, winked before reaching up to scissor off the head of the remaining Elapid demon. Its body collapsed as it vanished and Jace, splattered in black blood, grinned.

A surge of something went through Clary-a sense of buzzing elation. Both Jace and Isabelle had spoken to her of the high of battle, but she'd never really experienced it before. Now she did. She felt all-powerful, her veins humming, strength uncoiling from the base of her spine. Everything seemed to have slowed down around her. She watched as the injured Elapid demon spun and turned on her, racing toward her on its insectile feet, lips already curling back from its fangs. She stepped back, yanked the antique flag from its mounting place on the wall, and slammed the end of it into the Elapid's open, gaping mouth. The pole punched out through the back of the creature's skull, and the Elapid disappeared, taking the flag with it.

Clary laughed out loud. Sebastian, who had just finished off another demon, swung around at the noise, and his eyes widened. "Clary! Stop him!" he shouted, and she spun around to see Mirek, his hands fumbling at a door set into the back of the shop.

She broke into a run, yanking the seraph blade from her belt as she went. "Nakir!" she cried, vaulting up onto the counter, and she flung herself from the top of it as her weapon exploded into brightness. She landed on the Vetis demon, knocking him to the ground. One of his eel-like arms snapped at her, and she sliced it off with a sawing motion of her blade. More black blood sprayed. The demon looked at her with red, frightened eyes.

"Stop," he wheezed. "I could give you whatever you want-"

"I have everything I want," she whispered, and drove her seraph blade down. It plunged into the demon's chest, and Mirek disappeared with a hollow cry. Clary thumped to her knees on the carpet.

A moment later two heads appeared over the side of the counter, staring down at her-one golden-blond and one silver-blond. Jace and Sebastian. Jace was wide-eyed; Sebastian looked pale. "Name of the Angel, Clary," he breathed. "The adamas-"

"Oh, that stuff you wanted? It's right here." It had rolled partly under the counter. Clary held it up now, a luminous chunk of silver, smeared where her bloody hands had touched it.

Sebastian swore with relief and grabbed the adamas out of her hands as Jace vaulted over the counter in a single movement and landed beside Clary. He knelt down and pulled her close, running his hands over her, his eyes dark with concern. She caught at his wrists.

"I'm all right," she said. Her heart was pounding, her blood still singing in her veins. He opened his mouth to say something, but she leaned forward and put her hands on either side of his face, her nails digging in. "I feel good." She looked at him, rumpled and sweaty and bloody as he was, and wanted to kiss him. She wanted-

"All right, you two," said Sebastian. Clary pulled away from Jace and glanced up at her brother. He was grinning down at them, lazily spinning the adamas in one hand. "Tomorrow we use this," he said, nodding toward it. "But tonight-once we're cleaned up a little-we celebrate."

Simon padded barefoot out into the living room, Isabelle behind him, to find a surprising tableau. The circle and the pentagram in the center of the floor were shining with a bright silver light, like mercury. Smoke rose from the center of it, a tall black-red column, tipped with white. The whole room smelled of burning. Magnus and Alec stood outside the circle, and with them Jordan and Maia, who-given the coats and hats they were wearing-looked as if they had just arrived.

"What's going on?" Isabelle asked, stretching her long limbs with a yawn. "Why is everyone watching the Pentagram Channel?"

"Just hang on a second," Alec said grimly. "You'll see."

Isabelle shrugged and added her gaze to the others'. As everyone watched, the white smoke began to swirl, fast and then faster, a mini-tornado that tore across the center of the pentagram, leaving words behind it spelled out in scorch marks:


"Huh," Simon said. "Has it been doing that all morning?"

Magnus threw his arms up. He was wearing leather pants and a shirt with a zigzag metallic lightning bolt on it. "All night, too."

"Just asking the same question over and over?"

"No, it says different things. Sometimes it swears. Azazel appears to be having some fun."

"Can it hear us?" Jordan cocked his head to the side. "Hey, there, demon guy."

The fiery letters rearranged themselves. HELLO, WEREWOLF.

Jordan took a step back and looked at Magnus. "Is this... normal?"

Magnus seemed deeply unhappy. "It is most decidedly not normal. I have never called up a demon as powerful as Azazel, but even so-I've been through the literature, and I can't find an example of this happening before. It's getting out of control."

"Azazel must be sent back," Alec said. "Like, permanently sent back." He shook his head. "Maybe Jocelyn was right. No good can come from summoning demons."

"I'm pretty sure I came from someone summoning a demon," Magnus noted. "Alec, I've done this hundreds of times. I don't know why this time would be different."

"Azazel can't get out, can he?" said Isabelle. "Of the pentagram, I mean."

"No," said Magnus, "but he shouldn't be able to be doing any of the other things he's doing either."

Jordan leaned forward, his hands on his blue-jeaned knees. "What's it like being in Hell, dude?" he asked. "Hot or cold? I've heard both."

There was no reply.

"Good job, Jordan," said Maia. "I think you annoyed him."

Jordan poked at the edge of the pentagram. "Can it tell the future? So, pentagram, is our band going to make it big?"

"It's a demon from Hell, not a Magic Eight Ball, Jordan," said Magnus irritably. "And stay away from the borders of the pentagram. Summon a demon and trap it in a pentagram, and it can't get out to harm you. But step into the pentagram, and you've put yourself in the demon's range of power-"

At that moment the pillar of smoke began to coalesce. Magnus's head whipped up, and Alec stood, almost knocking over his chair, as the smoke took on the form of Azazel. His suit formed first-a gray and silver pinstripe, with elegant cuffs-and then he seemed to fill it out, his flame eyes the last thing to appear. He looked around him in evident pleasure. "The gang's all here, I see," he said. "So, have you come to a decision?"

"We have," said Magnus. "I don't believe we'll be requiring your services. Thanks anyway."

There was a silence.

"You can go now." Magnus wiggled his fingers in a goodbye wave. "Ta."

"I don't think so," Azazel said pleasantly, whipping out his handkerchief and buffing his nails with it. "I think I'll stay. I like it here."

Magnus sighed and said something to Alec, who went to the table and returned carrying a book, which he handed to the warlock. Magnus flipped it open and began to read. "Damned spirit, begone. Return thou to the realm of smoke and flame, of ash and-"

"That won't work on me," said the demon in a bored voice. "Go ahead and try, if you like. I'll still be here."

Magnus looked at him with eyes smoldering with rage. "You can't force us to bargain with you."

"I can try. It's hardly as if I have anything better to occupy-"

Azazel broke off as a familiar shape streaked through the room. It was Chairman Meow, hot on the heels of what looked like a mouse. As everyone watched in surprise and horror, the small cat dashed through the outline of the pentagram-and Simon, acting on instinct rather than rational thought, jumped into the pentagram after him and scooped him up into his arms.

"Simon!" He knew without turning around that it was Isabelle, her cry reflexive. He turned to look at her as she clapped her hand over her mouth and looked at him with wide eyes. They were all staring. Izzy's face was drained white with horror, and even Magnus looked unsettled.

Summon a demon and trap it in a pentagram, and it can't get out to harm you. But step into the pentagram, and you've put yourself in the demon's range of power.

Simon felt a tap on his shoulder. He dropped Chairman Meow as he turned, and the small cat streaked out of the pentagram and across the room to hide under a sofa. Simon looked up. The massive face of Azazel loomed over him. This close, he could see the cracks in the demon's skin, like cracks in marble, and the flames deep in Azazel's pitted eyes. When Azazel smiled, Simon saw that each of his teeth was tipped with a needle of iron.

Azazel exhaled. A cloud of hot sulfur spread around Simon. He was dimly aware of Magnus's voice, rising and falling in a chant, and Isabelle screaming something as the demon's hands clamped around his arms. Azazel lifted Simon off the ground so his feet were dangling in the air-and threw him.

Or tried to. His hands slipped off Simon; Simon dropped to the ground in a crouch as Azazel shot backward and seemed to hit an invisible barrier. There was a sound like stone shattering. Azazel slid to his knees, then painfully rose to his feet. He looked up with a roar, teeth flashing, and stalked toward Simon-who, realizing belatedly what was going on, reached up with a shaking hand and pushed the hair back from his forehead.

Azazel stopped in his tracks. His hands, the nails tipped with the same sharp iron as his teeth, curled in toward his sides. "Wanderer," he breathed. "Is it you?"

Simon stayed frozen. Magnus was still chanting softly in the background, but everyone else was silent. Simon was afraid to look around, to catch the eye of any of his friends. Clary and Jace, he thought, had already seen the work of the Mark, its blazing fire. No one else had. No wonder they were wordless.

"No," Azazel said, his fiery eyes narrowing. "No, you are too young, and the world too old. But who would dare place Heaven's mark on a vampire? And why?"

Simon lowered his hand. "Touch me again and find out," he said.

Azazel gave a rumbling sound-half laughter, half disgust. "I think not," he said. "If you have been dabbling in bending the will of Heaven, even my freedom is not worth gambling for by allying my fate with yours." He glanced around the room. "You are all madmen. Good luck, human children. You will need it."

And he vanished in a burst of flame, leaving searing black smoke-and the stink of sulfur-behind.

"Hold still," Jace said, taking the Herondale dagger in his hand and using the tip of it to slice Clary's shirt open from the collar to the hem. He took the two halves of it and pushed them gingerly off her shoulders, leaving her sitting on the edge of the sink in just her jeans and a camisole. Most of the ichor and venom had gotten on her jeans and coat, but the fragile silk shirt was trashed. Jace dropped it into the sink, where it sizzled in the water, and applied his stele to her shoulder, tracing the outlines of the healing rune lightly.

She closed her eyes, feeling the burn of the rune, and then a rush as the relief from pain spread up her arms and down her back. It was like Novocain, but without making her numb.

"Better?" Jace asked.

Articles you may like