“Yeah. I’m at Magnus’s place. I think I might be making some headway. What’s up?”
“Come back,” Isabelle said, and Jace sat up straight, the pillow tumbling to the floor. Her voice was tightly strained. He could hear the sharpness in it, like the off notes of a badly tuned piano. “To the Institute. Right away, Jace.”
“What is it?” he asked. “What’s happened?” And he saw Magnus sit up too, the blanket dropping from his hand.
“Sebastian,” Isabelle said.
Jace closed his eyes. He saw golden blood, and white feathers scattered across a marble floor. He remembered the apartment, a knife in his hands, the world at his feet, Sebastian’s grip on his wrist, those fathomless black eyes looking at him with dark amusement. There was a buzzing in his ears.
“What is it?” Magnus’s voice cut through Jace’s thoughts. He realized he was already at the door, the phone back in his pocket. He turned. Magnus was behind him, his expression stark. “Is it Alec? Is he all right?”
“What do you care?” said Jace, and Magnus flinched. Jace didn’t think he’d ever seen Magnus flinch before. It was the only thing that kept Jace from slamming the door on the way out.
There were dozens of unfamiliar coats and jackets hanging in the entryway of the Institute. Clary felt the tight buzzing of tension in her shoulders as she unzipped her own wool coat and hung it on one of the hooks that lined the walls.
“And Maryse didn’t say what this was about?” Clary demanded. The edges of her voice had been rubbed thin by anxiety.
Jocelyn had unwound a long gray scarf from around her neck, and barely looked as Luke took it from her to drape it on a hook. Her green eyes were darting around the room, taking in the gate of the elevator, the arched ceiling overhead, the faded murals of men and angels.
Luke shook his head. “Just that there’d been an attack on the Clave, and we needed to get here as quickly as possible.”
“It’s the ‘we’ part that concerns me.” Jocelyn wound her hair up into a knot at the back of her head, and secured it with her fingers. “I haven’t been in an Institute in years. Why do they want me here?”
Luke squeezed her shoulder reassuringly. Clary knew what Jocelyn feared, what they all feared. The only reason the Clave would want Jocelyn here was if there was news of her son.
“Maryse said they’d be in the library,” Jocelyn said. Clary led the way. She could hear Luke and her mother talking behind her, and the soft sound of their footsteps, Luke’s slower than they had once been. He hadn’t entirely recovered from the injury that had nearly killed him in November.
You know why you’re here, don’t you, breathed a soft voice in the back of her head. She knew it wasn’t really there, but that didn’t help. She hadn’t seen her brother since the fight at the Burren, but she carried him in some small part of her mind, an intrusive, unwelcome ghost. Because of me. You always knew I hadn’t gone away forever. I told you what would happen. I spelled it out for you.
I am coming.
They had reached the library. The door was half-open, and a babble of voices spilled through. Jocelyn paused for a moment, her expression tight.
Clary put her hand on the doorknob. “Are you ready?” She hadn’t noticed till then what her mother was wearing: black jeans, boots, and a black turtleneck. As if, without thinking of it, she had put on the closest thing she had to fighting gear.
Jocelyn nodded at her daughter.
Someone had pushed back all the furniture in the library, clearing a large space in the middle of the room, just atop the mosaic of the Angel. A massive table had been placed there, a huge slab of marble balanced on top of two kneeling stone angels. Around the table were seated the Conclave. Some members, like Kadir and Maryse, Clary knew by name. Others were just familiar faces. Maryse was standing, ticking off names on her fingers as she chanted aloud. “Berlin,” she said. “No survivors. Bangkok. No survivors. Moscow. No survivors. Los Angeles—”
“Los Angeles?” said Jocelyn. “That was the Blackthorns. Are they—”
Maryse looked startled, as if she hadn’t realized Jocelyn had come in. Her blue eyes swept over Luke and Clary. She looked drawn and exhausted, her hair scraped back severely, a stain—red wine or blood?—on the sleeve of her tailored jacket. “There were survivors,” she said. “Children. They’re in Idris now.”
“Helen,” said Alec, and Clary thought of the girl who had fought with them against Sebastian at the Burren. She remembered her in the nave of the Institute, a dark-haired boy clinging to her wrist. My brother, Julian.
“Aline’s girlfriend,” Clary blurted out, and saw the Conclave look at her with thinly veiled hostility. They always did, as if who she was and what she represented made them almost unable to see her. Valentine’s daughter. Valentine’s daughter. “Is she all right?”
“She was in Idris, with Aline,” said Maryse. “Her younger brothers and sisters survived, although there seems to have been an issue with the eldest brother, Mark.”
“An issue?” said Luke. “What’s going on, exactly, Maryse?”
“I don’t think we’ll know the whole story until we get to Idris,” said Maryse, smoothing back her already smooth hair. “But there have been attacks, several in the course of two nights, on six Institutes. We’re not sure yet how the Institutes were breached, but we know—”
“Sebastian,” said Clary’s mother. She had her hands jammed into the pockets of her black trousers, but Clary suspected that if she hadn’t, Clary would have been able to see that her mother’s hands were tightened into fists. “Cut to the point, Maryse. My son. You wouldn’t have called me here if he wasn’t responsible. Would you?” Jocelyn’s eyes met Maryse’s, and Clary wondered if this was how it had been when they’d both been in the Circle, the sharp edges of their personalities rubbing up against each other, causing sparks.
Before Maryse could speak, the door opened and Jace came in. He was flushed with the cold, bareheaded, fair hair tousled by the wind. His hands were gloveless, red at the tips from the weather, scarred with Marks new and old. He saw Clary and gave her a quick smile before settling into a chair propped against the wall.
Luke, as usual, moved to make peace. “Maryse? Is Sebastian responsible?”
Maryse took a deep breath. “Yes, yes he was. And he had the Endarkened with him.”
“Of course it’s Sebastian,” said Isabelle. She had been staring down at the table; now she raised her head. Her face was a mask of hatred and rage. “He said he was coming; well, now he’s come.”
Maryse sighed. “We assumed he’d attack Idris. That was what all the intelligence indicated. Not Institutes.”
“So he did the thing you didn’t expect,” said Jace. “He always does the thing you don’t expect. Maybe the Clave should plan for that.” Jace’s voice dropped. “I told you. I told you he’d want more soldiers.”
“Jace,” said Maryse. “You’re not helping.”
“I wasn’t trying to.”
“I would have thought he’d attack here first,” said Alec. “Given what Jace was saying before, and it’s true—everyone he loves or hates is here.”
“He doesn’t love anyone,” Jocelyn snapped.
“Mom, stop,” Clary said. Her heart was pounding, sick in her chest; yet at the same time there was a strange sense of relief. All this time waiting for Sebastian to come, and now he had. Now the waiting was over. Now the war would start. “So what are we supposed to do? Fortify the Institute? Hide?”
“Let me guess,” said Jace, his voice dripping sarcasm. “The Clave’s called for a Council. Another meeting.”
“The Clave has called for immediate evacuation,” said Maryse, and at that, everyone went silent, even Jace. “All Institutes are to empty out. All Conclaves must return to Alicante. The wards around Idris will be doubled after tomorrow. No one will be able to come in or get out.”
Isabelle swallowed. “When do we leave New York?”
Maryse straightened up. Some of her usual imperious air was back, her mouth a thin line, her jaw set with determination. “Go and pack,” she said. “We leave tonight.”
STAND OR FALL
Waking was like being plunged into a bath of icy water. Emma sat up straight, torn out of sleep, her mouth opening on a scream. “Jules! Jules!”
There was movement in the darkness, a hand on her arm, and a sudden light that stung her eyes. Emma gasped and scrabbled backward, pushing herself among the cushions—she was lying on a bed, she realized, pillows stacked behind her back and the sheets twisted around her body in a sweaty tangle. She blinked the darkness out of her eyes, trying to focus.
Helen Blackthorn was leaning over her, blue-green eyes worried, a witchlight glowing in her hand. They were in a room with a steeply gabled roof, slanting down hard on either side, like in a fairytale cabin. A big four-poster wooden bed was in the center of the room, and in the shadows behind Helen, Emma could see furniture looming: a big square wardrobe, a long sofa, a table with rickety legs. “W-where am I?” Emma gasped.
“Idris,” Helen said, stroking her arm in a soothing manner. “You made it to Idris, Emma. We’re in the attic of the Penhallows’ house.”
“M-my parents.” Emma’s teeth chattered. “Where are my parents?”
“You came through the Portal with Julian,” said Helen gently, not answering her question. “All of you made it through somehow—it’s a miracle, you know. The Clave opened the way, but Portal travel is hard. Dru came through holding on to Tavvy, and the twins came through together, of course. And then, when we’d almost given up hope, you two. You were unconscious, Em.” She brushed Emma’s hair back from her forehead. “We were so worried. You should have seen Jules—”