City of Fallen Angels
Page 14

 Cassandra Clare

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Jace followed him, hunching his shoulders slightly against the wind, though he made no move to zip up the suede jacket he'd retrieved from Clary earlier that day. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"I'm sure you don't."
As they rounded the corner onto Avenue B, Simon looked at Jace sideways. "So," he said. "Were you following me? Or is it just an amazing coincidence that you happened to be on the roof of a building I was walking by when I got attacked?"
Jace stopped at the corner, waiting for the light to turn. Apparently even Shadowhunters had to obey traffic laws. "I was following you."
"Is this the part where you tell me you're secretly in love with me? Vampire mojo strikes again."
"There's no such thing as vampire mojo," said Jace, rather eerily echoing Clary's earlier comment. "And I was following Clary, but then she got into a cab, and I can't follow a cab. So I doubled back and followed you instead. Mostly for something to do."
"You were following Clary?" Simon echoed. "Here's a hot tip: Most girls don't like being stalked."
"She left her phone in the pocket of my jacket," Jace said, patting his right side, where, presumably, the phone was stashed. "I thought if I could figure out where she was going, I could leave it where she'd find it."
"Or," Simon said, "you could call her at home and tell her you had her phone, and she could come and get it from you."
Jace said nothing. The light changed, and they headed across the street toward the C-Town supermarket. It was still open. Markets in Manhattan never closed, Simon thought, which was a nice change from Brooklyn. Manhattan was a good place to be a vampire. You could do all your shopping at midnight and no one would think it was weird.
"You're avoiding Clary," Simon observed. "I don't suppose you want to tell me why?"
"No, I don't," Jace said. "Just count yourself lucky I was following you, or-"
"Or what? Another mugger would be dead?" Simon could hear the bitterness in his own voice. "You saw what happened."
"Yes. And I saw the look on your face when it did." Jace's tone was neutral. "That wasn't the first time you've seen that happen, was it?"
Simon found himself telling Jace about the tracksuited figure who had attacked him in Williamsburg, and how he had assumed it was just a mugger. "After he died, he turned into salt," he finished. "Just like the second guy. I guess it's a biblical thing. Pillars of salt. Like Lot's wife."
They had reached the supermarket; Jace shoved the door open, and Simon followed him in, grabbing a miniature wheeled silver cart from the line near the front door. He started to push it down one of the aisles, and Jace followed him, clearly lost in thought. "So I guess the question is," Jace said, "do you have any idea who might want to kill you?"
Simon shrugged. The sight of all the food around him was making his stomach twist, reminding him how hungry he was, though not for anything they sold here. "Maybe Raphael. He seems to hate me. And he wanted me dead before-"
"It's not Raphael," said Jace.
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because Raphael knows about your Mark and wouldn't be stupid enough to strike at you directly like that. He'd know exactly what would happen. Whoever's after you, it's someone who knows enough about you to know where you're likely to be, but they don't know about the Mark."
"But that could be anyone."
"Exactly," said Jace, and grinned. For a moment he almost looked like himself again.
Simon shook his head. "Look, do you know what you want to eat, or do you just want me to keep pushing this cart up and down aisles because it amuses you?"
"That," said Jace, "and I'm not really familiar with what they sell in mundane grocery stores. Maryse usually cooks or we order in food." He shrugged, and picked up a piece of fruit at random. "What's this?"
"That's a mango." Simon stared at Jace. Sometimes it really was like Shadowhunters were from an alien planet.
"I don't think I've ever seen one of those that wasn't already cut up," Jace mused. "I like mangoes."
Simon grabbed the mango and tossed it into the cart. "Great. What else do you like?"
Jace pondered for a moment. "Tomato soup," he said finally.
"Tomato soup? You want tomato soup and a mango for dinner?"
Jace shrugged. "I don't really care about food."
"Fine. Whatever. Stay here. I'll be right back." Shadowhunters. Simon seethed quietly to himself as he rounded the corner of an aisle lined with soup cans. They were a sort of bizarre amalgam of millionaires-people who never had to consider the petty parts of life, like how to shop for food, or use MetroCard machines in the subway-and soldiers, with their rigid self-discipline and constant training. Maybe it was easier for them, going through life with blinders on, he thought as he grabbed a soup can off the shelf. Maybe it helped you keep your focus on the big picture-which, when your job was basically keeping the world safe from evil, was a pretty big picture indeed.
He was feeling nearly sympathetic toward Jace as he neared the aisle where he'd left him-then paused. Jace was leaning against the cart, turning something over in his hands. From this distance Simon couldn't see what it was, and he couldn't get closer, either, because two teenage girls were blocking his way, standing in the middle of the aisle giggling and crowding up against each other to whisper the way girls did. They were obviously dressed to pass for twenty-one, in high heels and short skirts, push-up bras and no jackets to keep the chill away.
They smelled like lip gloss. Lip gloss and baby powder and blood.
He could hear them, of course, despite the whispering. They were talking about Jace, how hot he was, each daring the other to go up and talk to him. There was a great deal of discussion of his hair and also his abs, although how they could really see his abs though his T-shirt, Simon wasn't sure. Blech, he thought. This is ridiculous. He was about to say "Excuse me" when one of them, the taller and darker-haired of the two, broke away and sauntered over to Jace, wobbling a little on her platform heels. Jace looked up as she approached him, his eyes wary, and Simon had the sudden panicked thought that maybe Jace would mistake her for a vampire or some kind of succubus and whip out one of his seraph blades on the spot, and then they'd both be arrested.
He needn't have worried. Jace just arched an eyebrow. The girl said something to him breathlessly; he shrugged; she pressed something into his hand, and then dashed back to her friend. They wobbled out of the store, giggling together.
Simon went over to Jace and dropped the soup can into the cart. "So what was all that about?"
"I think," Jace said, "that she asked if she could touch my mango."
"She said that?"
Jace shrugged. "Yeah, then she gave me her number." He showed Simon the piece of paper with an expression of bland indifference, then tossed it into the cart. "Can we go now?"
"You're not going to call her, are you?"
Jace looked at him as if he were insane.
"Forget I said that," said Simon. "This sort of thing happens to you all the time, doesn't it? Girls just coming up to you?"
"Only when I'm not glamoured."
"Yes, because when you are, girls can't see you, because you're invisible." Simon shook his head. "You're a public menace. You shouldn't be allowed out on your own."
"Jealousy is such an ugly emotion, Lewis." Jace grinned a crooked grin that normally would have made Simon want to hit him. Not this time, though. He had just realized what it was that Jace had been playing with, turning over and over in his fingers as if it were something precious or dangerous or both. It was Clary's phone.
"I'm still not sure that this is a good idea," said Luke.
Clary, her arms crossed over her chest to ward off the chill of the Silent City, looked sideways at him. "Maybe you should have said that before we got here."
"I'm fairly sure I did. Several times." Luke's voice echoed off the stone pillars that rose overhead, striped with bands of semiprecious stone-black onyx, green jade, rose carnelian, and blue lapis. Silvery witchlight burned in torches attached to the pillars, lighting the mausoleums that lined each wall to a bright white that was almost painful to look at.
Little had changed in the Silent City since the last time Clary had been here. It still felt alien and strange, though now the sweeping runes that stretched across the floors in carved whorls and etched patterns teased her mind with the edges of their meanings, instead of being totally incomprehensible. Maryse had left her and Luke here in this entry chamber the moment they had arrived, preferring to go and confer with the Silent Brothers herself. There was no guarantee they'd let the three of them in to see the bodies, she'd warned Clary. Nephilim dead were the province of the Bone City's guardians, and no one else had jurisdiction over them.
Not that there were many such guardians left. Valentine had killed nearly all of them while searching for the Mortal Sword, leaving alive only the few who had not been in the Silent City at the time. New members had been added to their order since then, but Clary doubted there were more than ten or fifteen Silent Brothers left in the world.
The harsh clack of Maryse's heels on the stone floor alerted them to her return before she actually appeared, a robed Silent Brother trailing in her wake. "Here you are," she said, as if Clary and Luke weren't exactly where she'd left them. "This is Brother Zachariah. Brother Zachariah, this is the girl I was telling you about."
The Silent Brother pushed his hood back very slightly from his face. Clary held back a start of surprise. He didn't look like Brother Jeremiah had, with his hollowed eyes and stitched mouth. Brother Zachariah's eyes were closed, his high cheekbones each marked with the scar of a single black rune. But his mouth wasn't stitched shut, and she didn't think his head was shaved, either. It was hard to tell, with the hood up, whether she was seeing shadows or dark hair.
She felt his voice touch her mind. You truly believe you can do this thing, Valentine's daughter?
She felt her cheeks flush. She hated being reminded of whose daughter she was.
"Surely you've heard of the other things she's done," said Luke. "Her rune of binding helped us end the Mortal War."
Brother Zachariah raised his hood to hide his face. Come with me to the Ossuarium.
Clary looked at Luke, hoping for a supportive nod, but he was staring straight ahead and fiddling with his glasses the way he did when he was anxious. With a sigh she set off after Maryse and Brother Zachariah. He moved as silently as fog, while Maryse's heels sounded like gunshots on the marble floors. Clary wondered if Isabelle's propensity for unsuitable footwear was genetic.
They followed a winding path through the pillars, passing the great square of the Speaking Stars, where the Silent Brothers had first told Clary about Magnus Bane. Beyond the square was an arched doorway, set with a pair of enormous iron doors. Into their surfaces had been burned runes that Clary recognized as runes of death and peace. Over the doors was written an inscription in Latin that made her wish she had her notes with her. She was woefully behind in Latin for a Shadowhunter; most of them spoke it like a second language.
Taceant Colloquia. Effugiat risus. Hic locus est ubi mors gaudet succurrere vitae.
"Let conversation stop. Let laughter cease," Luke read aloud. "Here is the place where the dead delight to teach the living."
Brother Zachariah laid a hand on the door. The most recent of the murdered dead has been made ready for you. Are you prepared?
Clary swallowed hard, wondering exactly what it was she had gotten herself into. "I'm ready."
The doors swung wide, and they filed through. Inside was a large, windowless room with walls of smooth white marble. They were featureless save for hooks on which hung silvery instruments of dissection: shining scalpels, things that looked like hammers, bone saws, and rib spreaders. And beside them on shelves were even more peculiar instruments: massive corkscrew-like tools, sheets of sandpapery material, and jars of multicolored liquid, including a greenish one labeled "Acid" that actually seemed to be steaming.
The center of the room featured a row of high marble tables. Most were bare. Three were occupied, and on two of those three, all Clary could see was a human shape concealed by a white sheet. On the third table lay a body, the sheet pulled down to just below the rib cage. Naked from the waist up, the body was clearly male, and just as clearly a Shadowhunter. The corpse-pale skin was inked all over with Marks. The dead man's eyes had been bound with white silk, as per Shadowhunter custom.
Clary swallowed back her rising nausea and moved to stand beside the corpse. Luke came with her, his hand protectively on her shoulder; Maryse stood opposite them, watching everything with her curious blue eyes, the same color as Alec's.
Clary drew her stele from her pocket. She could feel the chill of the marble through her shirt as she leaned over the dead man. This close, she could see details-that his hair had been reddish brown, and that his throat had been torn clean through in strips, as if by a massive claw.
Brother Zachariah reached out and removed the silk binding from the dead man's eyes. Beneath it, they were closed. You may begin.
Clary took a deep breath and set the tip of the stele to the skin of the dead Shadowhunter's arm. The rune she had visualized before, in the entryway of the Institute, came back to her as clearly as the letters of her own name. She began to draw.
The black Mark lines spiraled out from the tip of her stele, much as they always did-but her hand felt heavy, the stele itself dragging slightly, as if she were writing in mud rather than on skin. It was as if the implement were confused, skittering over the surface of the dead skin, seeking the living spirit of the Shadowhunter that was no longer there. Clary's stomach churned as she drew, and by the time she was done and had retracted her stele, she was sweating and nauseated.