City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)(17) by Cassandra Clare

“Your mother left the Circle,” said Hodge. He didn’t move toward her but watched her across the room with a bird’s bright-eyed stillness. “Once we realized how extreme Valentine’s views had become—once we knew what he was prepared to do—many of us left. Lucian was the first to leave. That was a blow to Valentine. They had been very close.” Hodge shook his head. “Then Michael Wayland. Your father, Jace.”

Jace raised his eyebrows, but said nothing.

“There were those who stayed loyal. Pangborn. Blackwell. The Lightwoods—”

“The Lightwoods? You mean Robert and Maryse?” Jace looked thunderstruck. “What about you? When did you leave?”

“I didn’t,” said Hodge softly. “Neither did they …. We were afraid, too afraid of what he might do. After the Uprising the loyalists like Blackwell and Pangborn fled. We stayed and cooperated with the Clave. Gave them names. Helped them track down the ones who had run away. For that we received clemency.”

“Clemency?” Jace’s look was quick, but Hodge saw it.

He said, “You are thinking of the curse that binds me here, aren’t you? You always assumed it was a vengeance spell cast by an angry demon or warlock. I let you think it. But it is not the truth. The curse that binds me was cast by the Clave.”

“For being in the Circle?” Jace asked, his face a mask of astonishment.

“For not leaving it before the Uprising.”

“But the Lightwoods weren’t punished,” Clary said. “Why not? They’d done the same thing you’d done.”

“There were extenuating circumstances in their case—they were married; they had a child. Although it is not as if they reside in this outpost, far from home, by their own choice. We were banished here, the three of us—the four of us, I should say; Alec was a squalling baby when we left the Glass City. They can return to Idris on official business only, and then only for short times. I can never return. I will never see the Glass City again.”

Jace stared. It was as if he were looking at his tutor with new eyes, Clary thought, though it wasn’t Jace who had changed. He said, “‘The Law is hard, but it is the Law.’”

“I taught you that,” said Hodge, dry amusement in his voice. “And now you turn my lessons back at me. Rightly too.” He looked as if he wanted to sink down into a nearby chair, but held himself upright nevertheless. In his rigid posture there was something of the soldier he had once been, Clary thought.

“Why didn’t you tell me before?” she said. “That my mother was married to Valentine. You knew her name—”

“I knew her as Jocelyn Fairchild, not Jocelyn Fray,” said Hodge. “And you were so insistent on her ignorance of the Shadow World, you convinced me it could not be the Jocelyn I knew—and perhaps I did not want to believe it. No one would wish for Valentine’s return.” He shook his head again. “When I sent for the Brothers of the Bone City this morning, I had no idea just what news we would have for them,” he said. “When the Clave finds out Valentine may have returned, that he is seeking the Cup, there will be an uproar. I can only hope it does not disrupt the Accords.”

“I bet Valentine would like that,” Jace said. “But why does he want the Cup so badly?”

Hodge’s face was gray. “Isn’t that obvious?” he said. “So he can build himself an army.”

Jace looked startled. “But that would never—”

“Dinnertime!” It was Isabelle, standing framed in the door of the library. She still had the spoon in her hand, though her hair had escaped from its bun and was straggling down her neck. “Sorry if I’m interrupting,” she added, as an afterthought.

“Dear God,” said Jace, “the dread hour is nigh.”

Hodge looked alarmed. “I—I—I had a very filling breakfast,” he stammered. “I mean lunch. A filling lunch. I couldn’t possibly eat—”

“I threw out the soup,” Isabelle said. “And ordered Chinese from that place downtown.”

Jace unhitched himself from the desk and stretched. “Great. I’m starved.”

“I might be able to eat a bite,” admitted Hodge meekly.

“You two are terrible liars,” said Isabelle darkly. “Look, I know you don’t like my cooking—”

“So stop doing it,” Jace advised her reasonably. “Did you order mu shu pork? You know I love mu shu pork.”

Isabelle cast her eyes skyward. “Yes. It’s in the kitchen.”

“Awesome.” Jace ducked by her with an affectionate ruffle of her hair. Hodge went after him, pausing only to pat Isabelle on the shoulder—then he was gone, with a funny apologetic duck of the head. Had Clary really only a few minutes before been able to see the ghost in him of his old warrior self?

Isabelle was looking after Jace and Hodge, twisting the spoon in her scarred, pale fingers. Clary said, “Is he really?”

Isabelle didn’t look at her. “Is who really what?”

“Jace. Is he really a terrible liar?”

Now Isabelle did turn her eyes on Clary, and they were large and dark and unexpectedly thoughtful. “He’s not a liar at all. Not about important things. He’ll tell you horrible truths, but he won’t lie.” She paused before she added quietly, “That’s why it’s generally better not to ask him anything unless you know you can stand to hear the answer.”

The kitchen was warm and full of light and the salt-sweet smell of takeout Chinese food. The smell reminded Clary of home; she sat and looked at her glistening plate of noodles, toyed with her fork, and tried not to look at Simon, who was staring at Isabelle with an expression more glazed than the General Tso’s Duckling.

“Well, I think it’s kind of romantic,” said Isabelle, sucking tapioca pearls through an enormous pink straw.

“What is?” asked Simon, instantly alert.

“That whole business about Clary’s mother being married to Valentine,” said Isabelle. Jace and Hodge had filled her in, though Clary noted that both had left out the part about the Lightwoods having been in the Circle, and the curses the Clave had handed down. “So now he’s back from the dead and he’s come looking for her. Maybe he wants to get back together.”

“I kind of doubt he sent a Ravener demon to her house because he wants to ‘get back together,’” said Alec, who had turned up when the food was served. Nobody had asked him where he’d been, and he hadn’t offered the information. He was sitting next to Jace, across from Clary, and was avoiding looking at her.

“It wouldn’t be my move,” Jace agreed. “First the candy and flowers, then the apology letters, then the ravenous demon hordes. In that order.”

“He might have sent her candy and flowers,” Isabelle said. “We don’t know.”

“Isabelle,” said Hodge patiently, “this is the man who rained down destruction on Idris the like of which it had never seen, who set Shadowhunter against Downworlder and made the streets of the Glass City run with blood.”

“That’s sort of hot,” Isabelle argued, “that evil thing.”

Simon tried to look menacing, but gave it up when he saw Clary staring at him. “So why does Valentine want this Cup so bad, and why does he think Clary’s mom has it?” he asked.

“You said it was so he could make an army,” Clary said, turning to Hodge. “You mean because you can use the Cup to make Shadowhunters?”

“Yes.”

“So Valentine could just walk up to any guy on the street and make a Shadowhunter out of him? Just with the Cup?” Simon leaned forward. “Would it work on me?”

Hodge gave him a long and measured look. “Possibly,” he said. “But most likely, you’re too old. The Cup works on children. An adult would either be unaffected by the process entirely, or killed outright.”

“A child army,” said Isabelle softly.

“Only for a few years,” said Jace. “Kids grow fast. It wouldn’t be too long before they were a force to contend with.”

“I don’t know,” said Simon. “Turning a bunch of kids into warriors—I’ve heard of worse stuff happening. I don’t see the big deal about keeping the Cup away from him.”

“Leaving out that he would inevitably use this army to launch an attack on the Clave,” Hodge said dryly, “the reason that only a few humans are selected to be turned into Nephilim is that most would never survive the transition. It takes special strength and resilience. Before they can be turned, they must be extensively tested—but Valentine would never bother with that. He would use the Cup on any child he could capture, and cull out the twenty percent who survived to be his army.”

Alec was looking at Hodge with the same horror Clary felt. “How do you know he’d do that?”

“Because,” Hodge said, “when he was in the Circle, that was his plan. He said it was the only way to build the kind of force that was needed to defend our world.”

“But that’s murder,” said Isabelle, who looked a little green. “He was talking about killing children.”

“He said that we had made the world safe for humans for a thousand years,” said Hodge, “and now was their time to repay us with their own sacrifice.”

“Their children?” demanded Jace, his cheeks flushed. “That goes against everything we’re supposed to be about. Protecting the helpless, safeguarding humanity—”

Hodge pushed his plate away. “Valentine was insane,” he said. “Brilliant, but insane. He cared about nothing but killing demons and Downworlders. Nothing but making the world pure. He would have sacrificed his own son for the cause and could not understand how anyone else would not.”

“He had a son?” said Alec.

“I was speaking figuratively,” said Hodge, reaching for his handkerchief. He used it to mop his forehead before returning it to his pocket. His hand, Clary saw, was trembling slightly. “When his land burned, when his home was destroyed, it was assumed that he had burned himself and the Cup to ashes rather than relinquish either to the Clave. His bones were found in the ashes, along with the bones of his wife.”

“But my mother lived,” said Clary. “She didn’t die in that fire.”

“And neither, it seems now, did Valentine,” said Hodge. “The Clave will not be pleased to have been fooled. But more importantly, they will want to secure the Cup. And more importantly than that, they will want to make sure Valentine does not.”

“It seems to me that the first thing we’d better do is find Clary’s mother,” said Jace. “Find her, find the Cup, get it before Valentine does.”

This sounded fine to Clary, but Hodge looked at Jace as if he’d proposed juggling nitroglycerine as a solution. “Absolutely not.”

“Then what do we do?”

“Nothing,” Hodge said. “All this is best left to skilled, experienced Shadowhunters.”

“I am skilled,” protested Jace. “I am experienced.”

Hodge’s tone was firm, nearly parental. “I know that you are, but you’re still a child, or nearly one.”

Jace looked at Hodge through slitted eyes. His lashes were long, casting shadows down over his angular cheekbones. In someone else it would have been a shy look, even an apologetic one, but on Jace it looked narrow and menacing. “I am not a child.”

“Hodge is right,” said Alec. He was looking at Jace, and Clary thought that he must be one of the few people in the world who looked at Jace not as if he were afraid of him, but as if he were afraid for him. “Valentine is dangerous. I know you’re a good Shadowhunter. You’re probably the best our age. But Valentine’s one of the best there ever was. It took a huge battle to bring him down.”

“And he didn’t exactly stay down,” said Isabelle, examining her fork tines. “Apparently.”

“But we’re here,” said Jace. “We’re here and because of the Accords, nobody else is. If we don’t do something—”

“We are going to do something,” said Hodge. “I’ll send the Clave a message tonight. They could have a force of Nephilim here by tomorrow if they wanted. They’ll take care of this. You have done more than enough.”

Jace subsided, but his eyes were still glittering. “I don’t like it.”

“You don’t have to like it,” said Alec. “You just have to shut up and not do anything stupid.”

“But what about my mother?” Clary demanded. “She can’t wait for some representative from the Clave to show up. Valentine has her right now—Pangborn and Blackwell said so—and he could be …” She couldn’t bring herself to say the word “torture,” but Clary knew she wasn’t the only one thinking it. Suddenly no one at the table could meet her eyes.

Except Simon. “Hurting her,” he said, finishing her sentence. “Except, Clary, they also said she was unconscious and that Valentine wasn’t happy about it. He seems to be waiting for her to wake up.”

“I’d stay unconscious if I were her,” Isabelle muttered.

“But that could be any time,” said Clary, ignoring Isabelle. “I thought the Clave was pledged to protect people. Shouldn’t there be Shadowhunters here right now? Shouldn’t they already be searching for her?”

“That would be easier,” snapped Alec, “if we had the slightest idea where to look.”

“But we do,” said Jace.

“You do?” Clary looked at him, startled and eager. “Where?”

“Here.” Jace leaned forward and touched his fingers to the side of her temple, so gently that a flush crept up her face. “Everything we need to know is locked up in your head, under those pretty red curls.”

Clary reached up to touch her hair protectively. “I don’t think—”

“So what are you going to do?” Simon asked sharply. “Cut her head open to get at it?”

Jace’s eyes sparked, but he said calmly, “Not at all. The Silent Brothers can help her retrieve her memories.”

“You hate the Silent Brothers,” protested Isabelle.

“I don’t hate them,” said Jace candidly. “I’m afraid of them. It’s not the same thing.”