Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices)

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9781442468351: Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices)

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions...

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

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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.:

Lady Midnight

1

A SEPULCHRE IN THIS KINGDOM

“It’s just not working out,” Emma said. “This relationship, I mean.”

Disconsolate noises came from the other end of the phone. Emma was barely able to decipher them—the reception wasn’t particularly good on the roof of the Sepulchre Bar. She paced along the edge of the roofline, peering down into the central courtyard. Jacaranda trees were strung with electric lights, and sleek ultramodern tables and chairs were scattered around the garden space. Equally sleek and ultramodern young men and women thronged the place, glasses of wine glimmering in their hands like clear bubbles of red and white and pink. Someone had rented out the place for a private party: A sequined birthday banner hung between two trees, and waiters made their way through the crowd carrying pewter chargers of snacks.

There was something about the glamorous scene that made Emma want to break it up by kicking down some of the roof tiles or doing a front flip into the crowd. The Clave would lock you up for a good long time for that kind of behavior, though. Mundanes weren’t supposed to ever glimpse Shadowhunters. Even if Emma did jump down into the courtyard, none of the partygoers would see her. She was covered in glamour runes, applied by Cristina, that rendered her invisible to anyone without the Sight.

Emma sighed and put the phone back to her ear. “All right, our relationship,” she said. “Our relationship isn’t working out.”

“Emma,” Cristina hissed loudly behind her. Emma turned, her boots balanced at the edge of the roof. Cristina was sitting on the shingled slope behind her, polishing a throwing knife with a pale blue cloth. The cloth matched the bands that held her dark hair back from her face. Everything about Cristina was neat and put together—she managed to look as professional in her black fighting gear as most people would look in a power suit. Her golden good-luck medallion glimmered at the hollow of her throat and her family ring, twined with a pattern of roses for Rosales, shone on her hand as she placed the knife, wrapped in its cloth, beside her. “Emma, remember. Use your I statements.”

Cameron was still wittering away on the other end of the phone, something about getting together to talk, which Emma knew would be pointless. She focused on the scene below her—was that a shadow slipping through the crowd below, or was she imagining it? Maybe it was wishful thinking. Johnny Rook was usually reliable, and he’d seemed very sure about tonight, but Emma hated getting all geared up and full of anticipation only to discover there was going to be no fight to work off her energy.

“This is about me, not you,” she said into the phone. Cristina gave her an encouraging thumbs-up. “I am sick of you.” She smiled brightly as Cristina dropped her face into her hands. “So maybe we could go back to being friends?”

There was a click as Cameron hung up. Emma tucked the phone into her belt and scanned the crowd again. Nothing. Annoyed, she scrambled up the slope of the roof to flop down beside Cristina. “Well, that could have gone better,” she said.

“Do you think so?” Cristina took her hands away from her face. “What happened?”

“I don’t know.” Emma sighed and reached for her stele, the delicate adamas writing instrument Shadowhunters used to ink protection runes onto their skin. It had a carved handle made of demon bone and had been a gift from Jace Herondale, Emma’s first crush. Most Shadowhunters went through steles like mundanes went through pencils, but this one was special to Emma and she kept it as carefully intact as she kept her sword. “It always happens. Everything was fine, and then I woke up one morning and just the sound of his voice made me feel sick to my stomach.” She looked at Cristina guiltily. “I tried,” she added. “I waited weeks! I kept hoping it would get better. But it didn’t.”

Cristina patted her arm. “I know, cuata,” she said. “You just aren’t very good at having . . .”

“Tact?” Emma suggested. Cristina’s English was nearly accentless, and Emma often forgot it wasn’t her first language. On the other hand Cristina spoke seven languages on top of her native Spanish. Emma spoke English and some scraps of Spanish, Greek, and Latin, could read three demon languages, and swear in five.

“I was going to say relationships,” Cristina said. Her dark brown eyes twinkled. “I’ve only been here for two months and you’ve forgotten three dates with Cameron, skipped his birthday, and now you’ve dumped him because it was a slow patrol night.”

“He always wanted to play video games,” said Emma. “I hate video games.”

“No one is perfect, Emma.”

“But some people are perfect for each other. Don’t you think that has to be true?”

A strange look flashed over Cristina’s face, gone so quickly Emma was sure she’d imagined it. Sometimes Emma was reminded that however much she felt close to Cristina, she didn’t know her—didn’t know her the way she did Jules, the way you knew someone whose every moment you had shared since you were children. What had happened to Cristina in Mexico—whatever had sent her running to Los Angeles and away from her family and friends—was something she’d never spoken of to Emma.

“Well,” said Cristina, “at least you were wise enough to bring me along for moral support to help you through this difficult time.”

Emma poked Cristina with her stele. “I wasn’t planning on dumping Cameron. We were here, and he called, and his face came up on my phone—well, actually a llama came up on my phone because I didn’t have a picture of him so I just used a llama—and the llama made me so angry I just couldn’t help myself.”

“Bad time to be a llama.”

“Is it ever a good time, really?” Emma flipped the stele around and started to ink a Sure-Footedness rune onto her arm. She prided herself on having excellent balance without runes, but up on a roof it was probably a good idea to be safe.

She thought of Julian, far away in England, with a sting at her heart. He would have been pleased she was being careful. He would have said something funny and loving and self-deprecating about it. She missed him horribly, but she supposed that was how it was when you were parabatai, bound together by magic as well as friendship.

She missed all the Blackthorns. She had grown up playing among Julian and his sisters and brothers, lived with them since she was twelve—when she had lost her parents, and Julian, whose mother had already died, had lost his father. From being an only child she had been thrust into a big, loud, noisy, loving family. Not every part of it had been easy, but she adored them, from shy Drusilla to Tiberius, who loved detective stories. They had left at the beginning of the summer to visit their great-aunt in Sussex—the Blackthorn family was originally British. Marjorie, Julian had explained, was nearly a hundred years old and might die at any moment; they had to visit her. It was a moral requirement.

Off they’d gone for two months, all of them except their uncle, the head of the Institute. The shock to Emma’s system had been severe. The Institute had gone from noisy to quiet. Worst of all, when Julian was gone, she felt it, like a constant unease, a low-level pain in her chest.

Dating Cameron had not helped, but Cristina’s arrival had helped immeasurably. It was common for Shadowhunters who reached the age of eighteen to visit foreign Institutes and learn their different customs. Cristina had come to Los Angeles from Mexico City—there was nothing unusual about it, but she’d always had the air of someone running from something. Emma, meanwhile, had been running from loneliness. She and Emma had run directly into each other, and become best friends faster than Emma could have believed possible.

“Diana will be pleased about you dumping Cameron, at least,” said Cristina. “I don’t think she liked him.”

Diana Wrayburn was the Blackthorn family’s tutor. She was extremely smart, extremely stern, and extremely tired of Emma falling asleep in the middle of class because she’d been out the night before.

“Diana just thinks all relationships are a distraction from studying,” Emma said. “Why date when you can learn an extra demonic language? I mean, who wouldn’t want to know how to say ‘Come here often?’ in Purgatic?”

Cristina laughed. “You sound like Jaime. He hated studying.” Emma perked her ears: Cristina rarely spoke of the friends or family in Mexico City she’d left behind. She knew Cristina’s uncle had run the Mexico City Institute until he’d been killed in the Dark War and her mother had taken it over. She knew Cristina’s father had died when she was a child. But not much else. “But not Diego. He loved it. He did extra work for fun.”

“Diego? The perfect guy? The one your mom loves?” Emma began to trace the stele over her skin, the Farsighted rune taking shape on her forearm. The sleeves of her gear were elbow length, the skin below it marked all over with the pale white scars of runes long ago used up.

Cristina reached over and took the stele from Emma. “Here. Let me do that.” She continued the Farsighted rune. Cristina had a gorgeous hand with runes, careful and precise. “I don’t want to talk about Perfect Diego,” Cristina said. “My mother talks about him enough. Can I ask you about something else?”

Emma nodded. The pressure of the stele against her skin was familiar, almost pleasant.

“I know you wanted to come here because Johnny Rook told you that there have been bodies found with writing on them, and he thinks one will turn up here tonight.”

“Correct.”

“And you are hoping the writing will be the same as it was on your parents’ bodies.”

Emma tensed. She couldn’t help it. Any mention of her parents’ murders hurt as if it had happened yesterday. Even when the person asking her about it was as gentle as Cristina. “Yes.”

“The Clave says Sebastian Morgenstern murdered your parents,” said Cristina. “That is what Diana told me. That’s what they believe. But you don’t believe it.”

The Clave. Emma looked out into the Los Angeles night, at the brilliant explosion of electricity that was the skyline, at the rows and rows of billboards that lined Sunset Boulevard. It had been a harmless word, “Clave,” when she had first learned it. The Clave was simply the government of the Nephilim, made up of all active Shadowhunters over the age of eighteen.

In theory every Shadowhunter had a vote and an equal voice. In point of fact, some Shadowhunters were more influential than others: Like any political party, the Clave had its corruption and prejudices. For Nephilim this meant a strict code of honor and rules that every Shadowhunter had to adhere to or face dire consequences.

The Clave had a motto: The Law is hard, but it is the Law. Every Shadowhunter knew what it meant. The rules of the Law of the Clave had to be obeyed, no matter how hard or painful. The Law overrode everything else—personal need, grief, loss, unfairness, treachery. When the Clave had told Emma that she was to accept the fact that her parents had been murdered as part of the Dark War, she had been required to do so.

She hadn’t.

“No,” Emma said slowly. “I don’t think so.”

Cristina sat with the stele motionless in her hand, the rune unfinished. The adamas gleamed in the moonlight. “Could you tell me why?”

“Sebastian Morgenstern was building an army,” Emma said, still looking out at the sea of lights. “He took Shadowhunters and turned them into monsters that served him. He didn’t mark them up with demon languages written on their bodies and then dump them in the ocean. When the Nephilim tried to move my parents’ bodies, they dissolved. That didn’t happen to any of Sebastian’s victims.” She moved her finger along a roof tile. “And—it’s a feeling. Not a passing feeling. Something I’ve always believed. I believe it more every day. I believe my parents’ deaths were different. And that laying them at Sebastian’s door means—” She broke off with a sigh. “I’m sorry. I’m just rambling. Look, this is probably going to be nothing. You shouldn’t worry about it.”

“I worry about you,” Cristina said, but she laid the stele back against Emma’s skin and finished the rune without another word. It was something that Emma had liked about Cristina since the moment she’d met her—she never pressed or pressured.

Emma glanced down in appreciation as Cristina sat back, done with her work. The Farsighted rune gleamed clear and clean on Emma’s arm. “The only person I know who draws better runes than you do is Julian,” she said. “But he’s an artist—”

“Julian, Julian, Julian,” echoed Cristina in a teasing voice. “Julian is a painter, Julian is a genius, Julian would know how to fix this, Julian could build that. You know, for the past seven weeks I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Julian I’m starting to worry that when I meet him I will fall in love with him instantly.”

Emma brushed her gritty hands carefully down her legs. She felt tight and itchy and tense. All wound up for a battle and no fighting, she told herself. No wonder she wanted to jump out of her skin. “I don’t think he’s your type,” she said. “But he’s my parabatai, so I’m not objective.”

Cristina handed Emma’s stele back to her. “I always wanted a parabatai,” she said a little wistfully. “Someone who is sworn to protect you and to watch your back. A best friend forever, for your whole life.”

A best friend forever, for your whole life. When Emma’s parents had died, she’d fought to stay with the Blackthorns. Partly because she’d lost everything familiar to her and she couldn’t bear the thought of starting over, and partly because she’d wanted to stay in Los Angeles so that she could investigate her parents’ deaths.

It might have been awkward; she might have felt, the only Carstairs in a house of Blackthorns, out of place in the family. But she never had, because of Jules. Parabatai was more than friendship, more than family; it was a bond that tied you together, fiercely, in a way that every Shadowhunter respected and acknowledged the way that they respected the bond between husband and wife.

No one would separate parabatai. No one would dare try: Parabatai were stronger together. They fought together as if they could read each other’s minds. A single rune given to you by your parabatai was more powerful than ten runes given to you by someone else. Often parabatai had their ashes buried in the same tomb so that they wouldn’t be parted, even in death.

Not everyone had a parabatai; in fact, they were rare. It was a lifelong, binding commitment. You were swearing to stay by the other person’s side, swearing to always protect them, to go where they went, to consider their family your family. The words of the oath were from the Bible, and ancient: Whither thou goest, I will go; thy ­people shall be my people; where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.

If there was a term for it in mundane English, Emma thought, it would have been “soul mate.” Platonic soul mate. You weren’t allowed to be romantically involved with your parabatai. Like so many things, it was against the Law. Emma had never known why—it didn’t make any sense—but then, much of the Law didn’t. It hadn’t made sense for the Clave to exile and abandon Julian’s half siblings, Helen and Mark, simply because their mother had been a faerie, but they’d done that too when they’d created the Cold Peace.

Emma stood up, sliding her stele into her weapons belt. “...

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