Jia Penhallow stood on the balcony of the Gard and looked down over the city of Alicante.


The balcony was rarely used. There had been a time when the Consul had often spoken to the populace from this spot high above them, but the habit had fallen out of favor in the nineteenth century when Consul Fairchild had decided that the action smacked too much of the behavior of a pope or a king.


Twilight had come, and the lights of Alicante had begun to burn: witchlight in the windows of every house and storefront, witchlight illuminating the statue in Angel Square, witchlight pouring from the Basilias. Jia took a deep breath, holding the note from Maia Roberts that spoke of hope in her left hand as she readied herself.


The demon towers flared up blue, and Jia began to speak. Her voice echoed from tower to tower, dispersing itself through the city. She could see people stopped in the street, their heads craned back to look at the demon towers, people arrested on the doorsteps of their houses, listening as her words rolled over them like a tide.


“Nephilim,” she said. “Children of the Angel, warriors, tonight we ready ourselves, for tonight Sebastian Morgenstern will bring his forces against us.” The wind coming across the hills that surrounded Alicante was icy; Jia shivered. “Sebastian Morgenstern is trying to destroy what we are,” she said. “He will bring against us warriors who wear our own faces but are not Nephilim. We cannot hesitate. When we face them, when we look at an Endarkened, we cannot see brother or mother or sister or wife, but a creature in torment. A human from whom all humanity has been stripped. We are what we are because our will is free: We are free to choose. We choose to stand and fight. We choose to defeat Sebastian’s forces. They have the darkness; we have the strength of the Angel. Fire tests gold. In this fire we will be tested, and we will shine out. You know the protocol; you know what to do. Go forth, children of the Angel.


“Go forth and light the lights of war.”

22

THE ASHES OF OUR FATHERS




The sound of a sudden, wailing siren split the air, and Emma started up in bed, scattering the papers to the floor. Her heart was pounding.


Through the open window of her bedroom, she could see the demon towers, flashing gold and red. The colors of war.


She staggered to her feet, reaching for her gear, which was on a peg by the bed. She had just slid into it and was bending down to tie up her boots when the door to her room burst open. It was Julian. He skidded halfway inside before catching himself. He stared at the papers on the floor, and then at her. “Emma—didn’t you hear the announcement?”


“I was napping.” She clipped out the words as she attached the harness that held Cortana to her back, then slipped the blade into the scabbard.


“The city’s under attack,” he said. “We have to get to the Accords Hall. They’re going to lock us inside—all the kids—it’s the safest place in the city.”


“I won’t go,” Emma said.


Julian stared at her. He was wearing jeans and a gear jacket and sneakers; there was a shortsword stuck through his belt. His soft brown curls were wild and unbrushed. “What do you mean?”


“I don’t want to hide in the Accords Hall. I want to fight.”


Jules pushed his hands through his tangled hair. “If you fight, I fight,” he said. “And that means nobody carries Tavvy to the Accords Hall, and nobody protects Livvy or Ty or Dru.”


“What about Helen and Aline?” Emma demanded. “The Penhallows—”


“Helen’s waiting for us. All the Penhallows are up at the Gard, Aline included. There’s no one home but Helen and us,” said Julian, holding out a hand for Emma. “Helen can’t protect us all on her own and carry the baby, too; she’s only one person.” He looked at her, and she could see the fear in his eyes, the fear he was usually so careful to shield from the younger children.


“Emma,” he said. “You’re the best, the best fighter of all of us. You’re not just my friend, and I’m not just their older brother. I’m their father, or the closest thing to it, and they need me, and I need you.” The hand he was holding out was shaking. His sea-colored eyes were huge in his pale face: He didn’t look like anyone’s father. “Please, Emma.”


Slowly Emma reached out and took his hand, wrapping her fingers around his. She saw him let out a minute breath of relief, and felt her chest tighten. Behind him, through the open door, she could glimpse them: Tavvy and Dru, Livia and Tiberius. Her responsibility. “Let’s go,” she said.






At the top of the stairs Jace released Clary’s hand. She clutched at the balustrade, trying not to cough, though her lungs felt like they wanted to tear their way out of her chest. He looked at her—What’s wrong?—but then he stiffened. Audible behind them was the sound of racing feet. The Endarkened were on their heels.


“Come on,” Jace said, and started to run again.


Clary forced herself after him. Jace seemed to know where he was going, unerringly; she supposed he was using the map of the Gard in Alicante that he had in his head, burrowing in toward the center of the keep.


They turned into a long corridor; halfway down it Jace stopped in front of a set of metal doors. They were slashed with unfamiliar runes. Clary would have expected death runes, something that spoke of Hell and darkness, but these were runes of grieving and sorrow for a world destroyed. Who had etched them here, she wondered, and in what excess of mourning? She had seen runes of grief before. Shadowhunters wore them like badges when someone they loved had died, though they did nothing to ease suffering. But there was a difference between grief for a person and grief for a world.


Jace ducked his head, kissed her hard and fast on the mouth. “Are you ready?”


She nodded, and he swung the door open and stepped inside. She followed.


The room beyond was as large as the Council room in Alicante’s Gard, if not larger. The ceiling rose high above them, though instead of rows of seats a wide bare marble floor stretched toward a dais at the end of the room. Behind the dais were two massive, separate windows. Sunset light poured through each of them, though one sunset was the color of gold, and the other was the color of blood.


In the bloody golden light Sebastian knelt in the center of the room. He was etching runes into the floor, a circle of dark connected sigils. Realizing what he was doing, Clary started toward him—and then lurched back with a scream as a massive gray shape loomed up in front of her.


Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult
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