About the Author
Cassandra Clare is the #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Lord of Shadows and Lady Midnight, as well as the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series and Infernal Devices trilogy. She is the coauthor of The Bane Chronicles with Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson and Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy with Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman, as well as The Shadowhunter’s Codex, which she cowrote with her husband, Joshua Lewis. Her books have more than 50 million copies in print worldwide and have been translated into more than thirty-five languages, a feature film, and a TV show, Shadowhunters, currently airing on Freeform. Cassandra lives in western Massachusetts. Visit her at CassandraClare.com. Learn more about the world of the Shadowhunters at Shadowhunters.com.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
City of Ashes 1
“Are you still mad?”
Alec, leaning against the wall of the elevator, glared across the small space at Jace. “I’m not mad.”
“Oh, yes you are.” Jace gestured accusingly at his stepbrother, then yelped as pain shot up his arm. Every part of him hurt from the thumping he’d taken that afternoon when he’d dropped three floors through rotted wood onto a pile of scrap metal. Even his fingers were bruised. Alec, who’d only recently put away the crutches he’d had to use after his fight with Abbadon, didn’t look much better than Jace felt. His clothes were covered in mud and his hair hung down in lank, sweaty strips. There was a long cut down the side of his cheek.
“I am not,” Alec said, through his teeth. “Just because you said dragon demons were extinct—”
“I said mostly extinct.”
Alec jabbed a finger toward him. “Mostly extinct,” he said, his voice trembling with rage, “is NOT EXTINCT ENOUGH.”
“I see,” said Jace. “I’ll just have them change the entry in the demonology textbook from ‘almost extinct’ to ‘not extinct enough for Alec. He prefers his monsters really, really extinct.’ Will that make you happy?”
“Boys, boys,” said Isabelle, who’d been examining her face in the elevator’s mirrored wall. “Don’t fight.” She turned away from the glass with a sunny smile. “All right, so it was a little more action than we were expecting, but I thought it was fun.”
Alec looked at her and shook his head. “How do you manage never to get mud on you?”
Isabelle shrugged philosophically. “I’m pure at heart. It repels the dirt.”
Jace snorted so loudly that she turned on him with a frown. He wiggled his mud-caked fingers at her. His nails were black crescents. “Filthy inside and out.”
Isabelle was about to reply when the elevator ground to a halt with the sound of screeching brakes. “Time to get this thing fixed,” she said, yanking the door open. Jace followed her out into the entryway, already looking forward to shucking his armor and weapons and stepping into a hot shower. He’d convinced his siblings to come hunting with him despite the fact that neither of them was entirely comfortable going out on their own now that Hodge wasn’t there to give them instructions. But Jace had wanted the oblivion of fighting, the harsh diversion of killing, and the distraction of injuries. And knowing he wanted it, they’d gone along with it, crawling through filthy deserted subway tunnels until they’d found the Draconidae demon and killed it. The three of them working together in perfect unison, the way they always had. Like family.
He unzipped his jacket and slung it over one of the pegs hanging on the wall. Alec was sitting on the low wooden bench next to him, kicking off his muck-covered boots. He was humming tunelessly under his breath, letting Jace know he wasn’t that annoyed. Isabelle was pulling the pins out of her long dark hair, allowing it to shower down around her. “Now I’m hungry,” she said. “I wish Mom were here to cook us something.”
“Better that she isn’t,” said Jace, unbuckling his weapons belt. “She’d already be shrieking about the rugs.”
“You’re right about that,” said a cool voice, and Jace swung around, his hands still at his belt, and saw Maryse Lightwood, her arms folded, standing in the doorway. She wore a stiff black traveling suit and her hair, black as Isabelle’s, was drawn back into a thick rope that hung halfway down her back. Her eyes, a glacial blue, swept over the three of them like a tracking searchlight.
“Mom!” Isabelle, recovering her composure, ran to her mother for a hug. Alec got to his feet and joined them, trying to hide the fact that he was still limping.
Jace stood where he was. There had been something in Maryse’s eyes as her gaze had passed over him that froze him in place. Surely what he had said wasn’t that bad. They joked about her obsession with the antique rugs all the time—
“Where’s Dad?” Isabelle asked, stepping back from her mother. “And Max?”
There was an almost imperceptible pause. Then Maryse said, “Max is in his room. And your father, unfortunately, is still in Alicante. There was some business there that required his attention.”
Alec, generally more sensitive to moods than his sister, seemed to hesitate. “Is something wrong?”
“I could ask you that.” His mother’s tone was dry. “Are you limping?”
“I . . .”
Alec was a terrible liar. Isabelle picked up for him, smoothly:
“We had a run-in with a Draconidae demon in the subway tunnels. But it was nothing.”
“And I suppose that Greater Demon you fought last week, that was nothing too?”
Even Isabelle was silenced by that. She looked to Jace, who wished she hadn’t.
“That wasn’t planned for.” Jace was having a hard time concentrating. Maryse hadn’t greeted him yet, hadn’t said so much as hello, and she was still looking at him with eyes like blue daggers. There was a hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach that was beginning to spread. She’d never looked at him like this before, no matter what he’d done. “It was a mistake—”
“Jace!” Max, the youngest Lightwood, squeezed his way around Maryse and darted into the room, evading his mother’s reaching hand. “You’re back! You’re all back.” He turned in a circle, grinning at Alec and Isabelle in triumph. “I thought I heard the elevator.”
“And I thought I told you to stay in your room,” said Maryse.
“I don’t remember that,” said Max, with a seriousness that made even Alec smile. Max was small for his age—he looked about seven—but he had a self-contained gravity that, combined with his oversize glasses, gave him the air of someone older. Alec reached over and ruffled his brother’s hair, but Max was still looking at Jace, his eyes shining. Jace felt the cold fist clenched in his stomach relax ever so slightly. Max had always hero-worshiped him in a way that he didn’t worship his own older brother, probably because Jace was far more tolerant of Max’s presence. “I heard you fought a Greater Demon,” he said. “Was it awesome?”
“It was . . . different,” Jace hedged. “How was Alicante?”
“It was awesome. We saw the coolest stuff. There’s this huge armory in Alicante and they took me to some of the places where they make the weapons. They showed me a new way to make seraph blades too, so they last longer, and I’m going to try to get Hodge to show me—”
Jace couldn’t help it; his eyes flicked instantly to Maryse, his expression incredulous. So Max didn’t know about Hodge? Hadn’t she told him?
Maryse saw his look and her lips thinned into a knifelike line. “That’s enough, Max.” She took her youngest son by the arm.
He craned his head to look up at her in surprise. “But I’m talking to Jace—”
“I can see that.” She pushed him gently toward Isabelle. “Isabelle, Alec, take your brother to his room. Jace,”—there was a tightness in her voice when she spoke his name, as if invisible acid were drying up the syllables in her mouth—“get yourself cleaned up and meet me in the library as soon as you can.”
“I don’t get it,” said Alec, looking from his mother to Jace, and back again. “What’s going on?”
Jace could feel cold sweat start up along his spine. “Is this about my father?”
Maryse jerked twice, as if the words “my father” had been two separate slaps. “The library,’” she said, through clenched teeth. “We’ll discuss the matter there.”
Alec said, “What happened while you were gone wasn’t Jace’s fault. We were all in on it. And Hodge said—”
“We’ll discuss Hodge later as well.” Maryse’s eyes were on Max, her tone warning.
“But, Mother,” Isabelle protested. “If you’re going to punish Jace, you should punish us as well. It would only be fair. We all did exactly the same things.”
“No,” said Maryse, after a pause so long that Jace thought perhaps she wasn’t going to say anything at all. “You didn’t.”
* * *
“Rule number one of anime,” Simon said. He sat propped up against a pile of pillows at the foot of his bed, a bag of potato chips in one hand and the TV remote in the other. He was wearing a black T-shirt that said I BLOGGED YOUR MOM and a pair of jeans with a hole ripped in one knee. “Never screw with a blind monk.”
“I know,” Clary said, taking a potato chip and dunking it into the can of dip balanced on the TV tray between them. “For some reason they’re always way better fighters than monks who can see.” She peered at the screen. “Are those guys dancing?”
“That’s not dancing. They’re trying to kill each other. This is the guy who’s the mortal enemy of the other guy, remember? He killed his dad. Why would they be dancing?”
Clary crunched at her chip and stared meditatively at the screen, where animated swirls of pink and yellow clouds rippled between the figures of two winged men, who floated around each other, each clutching a glowing spear. Every once in a while one of them would speak, but since it was all in Japanese with Chinese subtitles, it didn’t clarify much. “The guy with the hat,” she said. “He was the evil guy?”
“No, the hat guy was the dad. He was the magical emperor, and that was his hat of power. The evil guy was the one with the mechanical hand that talks.”
The telephone rang. Simon set the bag of chips down and made as if to get up and answer it. Clary put her hand on his wrist. “Don’t. Just leave it.”
“But it might be Luke. He could be calling from the hospital.”
“It’s not Luke,” Clary said, sounding more sure than she felt. “He’d call my cell, not your house.”
Simon looked at her a long moment before sinking back down on the rug beside her. “If you say so.” She could hear the doubt in his voice, but also the unspoken assurance, I just want you to be happy. She wasn’t sure “happy” was anything she was likely to be right now, not with her mother in the hospital hooked up to tubes and bleeping machines, and Luke like a zombie, slumped in the hard plastic chair next to her bed. Not with worrying about Jace all the time and picking up the phone a dozen times to call the Institute before setting it back down, the number still undialed. If Jace wanted to talk to her, he could call.
Maybe it had been a mistake to take him to see Jocelyn. She’d been so sure that if her mother could just hear the voice of her son, her firstborn, she’d wake up. But she hadn’t. Jace had stood stiff and awkward by the bed, his face like a painted angel’s, with blank indifferent eyes. Clary had finally lost her patience and shouted at him, and he’d shouted back before storming off. Luke had watched him go with a clinical sort of interest on his exhausted face. “That’s the first time I’ve seen you act like sister and brother,” he’d remarked.
Clary had said nothing in response. There was no point telling him how badly she wanted Jace not to be her brother. You couldn’t rip out your own DNA, no matter how much you wished you could. No matter how much it would make you happy.
But even if she couldn’t quite manage happy, she thought, at least here in Simon’s house, in his bedroom, she felt comfortable and at home. She’d known him long enough to remember when he had a bed shaped like a fire truck and LEGOs piled in a corner of the room. Now the bed was a futon with a brightly striped quilt that had been a present from his sister, and the walls were plastered with posters of bands like Rock Solid Panda and Stepping Razor. There was a drum set wedged into the corner of the room where the LEGOs had been, and a computer in the other corner, the screen still frozen on an image from World of Warcraft. It was almost as familiar as being in her own bedroom at home—which no longer existed, so at least this was the next best thing.
“More chibis,” said Simon gloomily. All the characters on-screen had turned into inch-high baby versions of themselves and were chasing each other around waving pots and pans. “I’m changing the channel,” Simon announced, seizing the remote. “I’m tired of this anime. I can’t tell what the plot is and no one ever has sex.”
“Of course they don’t,” Clary said, taking another chip. “Anime is wholesome family entertainment.”
“If you’re in the mood for less wholesome entertainment, we could try the porn channels,” Simon observed. “Would you rather watch The Witches of Breastwick or As I Lay Dianne?”
“Give me that!” Clary grabbed for the remote, but Simon, chortling, had already switched the TV to another channel.
His laughter broke off abruptly. Clary looked up in surprise and saw him staring blankly at the TV. An old black-and-white movie was playing—Dracula. She’d seen it before, with her mother. Bela Lugosi, thin and white-faced, was on-screen, wrapped in the familiar high-collared cloak, his lips curled back from his pointed teeth. “I never drink . . . wine,” he intoned in his thick Hungarian accent.
“I love how the spiderwebs are made out of rubber,” Clary said, trying to sound light. “You can totally tell.”
But Simon was already on his feet, dropping the remote onto the bed. “I’ll be right back,” he muttered. His face was the color of winter sky just before it rained. Clary watched him go, biting her lip hard—it was the first time since her mother had gone to the hospital that she’d realized maybe Simon wasn’t too happy either.
* * *
Toweling off his hair, Jace regarded his reflection in the mirror with a quizzical scowl. A healing rune had taken care of the worst of his bruises, but it hadn’t helped the shadows under his eyes or the tight lines at the corners of his mouth. His head ached and he felt slightly dizzy. He knew he should have eaten something that morning, but he’d woken up nauseated and panting from nightmares, not wanting to pause to eat, just wanting the release of physical activity, to burn out his dreams in bruises and sweat.
Tossing the towel aside, he thought longingly of the sweet black tea Hodge used to brew from the night-blooming flowers in the greenhouse. The tea had taken away hunger pangs and brought a swift surge of energy. Since Hodge’s disappearance, Jace had tried boiling the plants’ leaves in water to see if he could produce the same effect, but the only result was a bitter, ashy-tasting liquid that made him gag and spit.
Barefoot, he padded into the bedroom and threw on jeans and a clean shirt. He pushed back his wet blond hair, frowning. It was too long at the moment, falling into his eyes—something Maryse would be sure to chide him about. She always did. He might not be the Lightwoods’ biological son, but they’d treated him like it since they’d adopted him at age ten, after the death of his own father. The supposed death, Jace reminded himself, that hollow feeling in his guts resurfacing again. He’d felt like a jack-o’-lantern for the past few days, as if his guts had been yanked out with a fork and dumped in a heap while a grinning smile stayed plastered on his face. He often wondered if anything he’d believed about his life, or himself, had ever been true. He’d thought he was an orphan—he wasn’t. He’d thought he was an only child—he had a sister.
Clary. The pain came again, stronger. He pushed it down. His eyes fell on the bit of broken mirror that lay atop his dresser, still reflecting green boughs and a diamond of blue sky. It was nearly twilight now in Idris: The sky was dark as cobalt. Choking on hollowness, Jace yanked his boots on and headed downstairs to the library.
He wondered as he clattered down the stone steps just what it was that Maryse wanted to say to him alone. She’d looked like she’d wanted to haul off and sma...
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