The doors of the Hall exploded inward with a blast of splinters; shards of marble and wood flew like shattered bone.
Emma stared numbly as red-clad warriors began to spill into the Hall, followed by faeries in green and white and silver. And after them came the Nephilim: Shadowhunters in black gear, desperate to protect their children.
A wave of guards raced to meet the Endarkened at the door, and were cut down. Emma watched them fall in what felt like slow motion. She knew she had risen to her feet, and so had Julian, thrusting Tavvy into Livia’s arms; they both moved to block the younger Blackthorns, as hopeless as Emma knew the gesture was.
This is how it ends, she thought. They had run from Sebastian’s warriors in Los Angeles, had fled to the Penhallows’, and from the Penhallows to the Hall, and now they were trapped like rats and they would die here and they might as well never have run at all.
She reached for Cortana, thinking of her father, of what he would have said if she gave up. Carstairs didn’t give up. They suffered and survived, or they died on their feet. At least if she died, she thought, she’d see her parents again. At least she’d have that.
The Endarkened surged into the room, parting the desperately fighting Shadowhunters like blades parting a field of wheat, driving toward the center of the Hall. They seemed a murderous blur, but Emma’s vision sharpened suddenly as one of them moved out of the crowd, directly toward the Blackthorns.
It was Julian’s father.
His time as a servant of Sebastian’s had not been good to him. His skin looked dull and gray, his face welted with bloody cuts, but he was striding forward purposefully, his eyes on his children.
Emma froze. Julian, beside her, had caught sight of his father; he seemed mesmerized, as if by a snake. He had seen his father forced to drink from the Internal Cup, Emma realized, but he hadn’t seen him after, hadn’t seen him raise a blade to his own son, or laugh about the idea of his son’s death, or force Katerina to her knees to be tortured and Turned. . . .
“Jules,” she said. “Jules, that isn’t your father—”
His eyes widened. “Emma, look out—”
She whirled, and screamed. A faerie warrior was looming above her, decked in silver armor; his hair was not hair at all, but a ropy tangle of thorned branches. Half his face was burned and bubbling where he must have been sprayed with iron powder or rock salt. One of his eyes was rolling, white and blinded, but the other fixed on Emma with murderous intent. Emma saw Diana Wrayburn, her dark hair whirling as she spun toward them, her mouth open to cry a warning. Diana moved toward Emma and the faerie, but there was no way she was going to make it in time. The faerie raised his bronze sword with a savage snarl—
Emma lunged forward, sinking Cortana into his chest.
His blood was like green water. It sprayed out over her hand as she let go of her sword in shock; he fell like a tree, striking the marble floor of the Hall with a heavy clang. She sprang forward, reaching for the hilt of Cortana, and heard Julian cry out:
She whipped around. Amid the chaos of the Hall, she could see the small space in which the Blackthorns stood. Andrew Blackthorn stopped in front of his children, an odd little smile on his face, and reached out a hand.
And Ty—Ty, of all of them, the least trusting, the least sentimental—was moving forward, his eyes fixed on his father, his own hand outstretched. “Dad?” he said.
“Ty?” Livia reached for her twin, but her hand closed on air. “Ty, don’t—”
“Don’t listen to her,” said Andrew Blackthorn, and if there had been any doubt that he was no longer the man who had been Julian’s father, it was gone when Emma heard his voice. There was no kindness in it, only ice, and the savage edge of a cruel glee. “Come here, my boy, my Tiberius . . .”
Ty took another step forward, and Julian pulled the shortsword from his belt and threw it. It sang through the air, straight and true, and Emma remembered, with a bizarre clarity, that last day in the Institute, and Katerina showing them how to throw a blade as direct and graceful as a line of poetry. How to throw a blade so that it never missed its mark.
The blade whipped past Tiberius and sank into Andrew Blackthorn’s chest. The man’s eyes flew open in shock, his gray hand fumbling for the hilt protruding from his rib cage—and then he fell, crumpling to the ground. His blood smeared across the marble floor as Tiberius gave a cry, whirling to lash out at his brother, pounding his fists against Julian’s chest.
“No,” Ty panted. “Why did you do that, Jules? I hate you, I hate you—”
Julian hardly seemed to feel it. He was staring at the place where his father had fallen; the other Endarkened were already moving forward, trampling the body of their fallen comrade. Diana Wrayburn stood a distance away: She had begun to move toward the children and then stopped, her eyes full of sorrow.
Hands came up and caught at the back of Tiberius’s shirt, pulling him away from Julian. It was Livvy, her face set. “Ty.” Her arms went around her twin, pinning his fists to his sides. “Tiberius, stop it right now.” Ty stopped, and sagged against his sister; slight as she was, she supported his weight. “Ty,” she said again, softly. “He had to. Don’t you understand? He had to.”
Julian stepped back, his face as white as paper, stepped back and back until he hit one of the stone pillars and slid down it, crumpling, his shoulders shaking with silent gasps.
My sister. My queen.
Clary sat rigid on the ivory and gold throne. She felt like a child in an adult’s chair: the thing had been built for someone massive, and her feet dangled above the top step. Her hands gripped the arms of the throne, but her fingers didn’t come close to reaching the carved handrests—though, since each was shaped like a skull, she had no desire to touch them anyway.
Sebastian was pacing inside his protective circle of runes; every once in a while he would pause to look up at her and smile the sort of uninhibited, gleeful smile she associated with the Sebastian from her vision, the boy with guiltless green eyes. He drew a long, sharp dagger from his belt as she watched, and ran the blade along the inside of his palm. His head fell back, his eyes half-closing as he stretched his hand out; blood ran down his fingers and splattered onto the runes.
Each began to glow with a dawning spark as the blood struck it. Clary pressed herself against the solid back of the throne. The runes were not Gray Book runes; they were alien and strange.
The door to the room opened, and Amatis strode in, followed by two moving lines of Endarkened warriors. Their faces were blank as they silently ranged themselves along the walls of the room, but Amatis looked worried. Her gaze skipped past Jace, motionless on the floor beside the body of the dead demon, to focus on her master. “Lord Sebastian,” she said. “Your mother is not in her cell.”