Clockwork Prince (Page 2)

Clockwork Prince(2)
Author: Cassandra Clare

"I wanted to show Tessa Poets’ Corner," said Jem. "I thought she would like it." He spoke so simply and plainly, no one could ever doubt him or imagine he said anything but the truth. In the face of his simple desire to please, even Will didn’t seem to be able to think of anything unpleasant to say; he merely shrugged, and moved on ahead of them at a rapid pace through the abbey and out into the East Cloister.

There was a square garden here surrounded by cloister walls, and people were walking around the edges of it, murmuring in low voices as if they were still in the church. None of them took notice of Tessa and her companions as they approached a set of double oak doors set into one of the walls. Will, after glancing around, took his stele from his pocket and drew the tip across the wood. The door sparked with a brief blue light and swung open. Will stepped inside, Jem and Tessa following just behind. The door was heavy, and closed with a resounding bang behind Tessa, nearly trapping her skirts; she pulled them away only just in time, and stepped backward quickly, turning around in what was a near pitch-darkness. "Jem?"

Light blazed up; it was Will, holding his witchlight stone. They were in a large stone-bound room with vaulted ceilings. The floor appeared to be brick, and there was an altar at one end of the room. "We’re in the Pyx Chamber,"

he said. "Used to be a treasury. Boxes of gold and silver all along the wal s."

"A Shadowhunter treasury?" Tessa was thoroughly puzzled.

"No, the British royal treasury-thus the thick wal s and doors," said Jem.

"But we Shadowhunters have always had access." He smiled at her expression. "Monarchies down through the ages have tithed to the Nephilim, in secret, to keep their kingdoms safe from demons."

"Not in America," said Tessa with spirit. "We haven’t got a monarchy-"

"You’ve got a branch of government that deals with Nephilim, never fear," said Will, crossing the floor to the altar. "It used to be the Department of War, but now there’s a branch of the Department of Justice-"

He was cut off as the altar moved sideways with a groan, revealing a dark, empty hole behind it. Tessa could see faint flickers of light in among the shadows. Will ducked into the hole, his witchlight il uminating the darkness.

When Tessa fol owed, she found herself in a long downward-sloping stone corridor. The stone of the wal s, floors, and ceiling was all the same, giving the impression that the passage had been hewed directly through the rock, though it was smooth instead of rough. Every few feet witchlight burned in a sconce shaped like a human hand pushing through the wall, fingers gripping a torch.

The altar slid shut behind them, and they set off. As they went, the passage began to slope more steeply downward. The torches burned with a blue- green glow, il uminating carvings in the rock-the same motif, repeated over and over, of an angel rising in burning fire from a lake, carrying a sword in one hand and a cup in the other.

At last they found themselves standing before two great silver doors. Each door was carved with a design Tessa had seen before-four interlocking Cs.

Jem pointed to them. "They stand for Clave and Council, Covenant and Consul," he said, before she could ask.

"The Consul. He’s-the head of the Clave? Like a sort of king?"

"Not quite so inbred as your usual monarch," said Will. "He’s elected, like the president or the prime minister."

"And the Council?"

"You’l see them soon enough." Will pushed the doors open.

Tessa’s mouth fell open; she closed it quickly, but not before she caught an amused look from Jem, standing at her right side. The room beyond them was one of the biggest she had ever seen, a huge domed space, the ceiling of which was painted with a pattern of stars and constel ations. A great chandelier in the shape of an angel holding blazing torches dangled from the highest point of the dome. The rest of the room was set up as an amphitheater, with long, curving benches. Will, Jem, and Tessa were standing at the top of a row of stairs that cut through the center of the seating area, which was three quarters full of people. Down at the bottom of the steps was a raised platform, and on that platform were several uncomfortable-looking high-backed wooden chairs.

In one of them sat Charlotte; beside her was Henry, looking wide-eyed and nervous. Charlotte sat calmly with her hands in her lap; only someone who knew her well would have seen the tension in her shoulders and the set of her mouth.

Before them, at a sort of speaker’s lectern-it was broader and longer than the usual lectern-stood a tal man with long, fair hair and a thick beard; his shoulders were broad, and he wore long black robes over his clothes like a judge, the sleeves glimmering with woven runes. Beside him, in a low chair, sat an older man, his brown hair streaked with gray, his face clean- shaven but sunk into stern lines. His robe was dark blue, and gems glittered on his fingers when he moved his hand. Tessa recognized him: the ice- voiced, ice-eyed Inquisitor Whitelaw who questioned witnesses on behalf of the Clave.

"Mr. Herondale," said the blond man, looking up at Will, and his mouth quirked into a smile. "How kind of you to join us. And Mr. Carstairs as well.

And your companion must be-"

"Miss Gray," Tessa said before he could finish. "Miss Theresa Gray of New York."

A little murmur ran around the room, like the sound of a wave receding.

She felt Will, next to her, tense, and Jem draw a breath as if to speak.

Interrupting the Consul, she thought she heard someone say. So this was Consul Wayland, the chief officer of the Clave. Glancing around the room, she saw a few familiar faces-Benedict Lightwood, with his sharp, beaky features and stiff carriage; and his son, tousle-haired Gabriel Lightwood, looking stonily straight ahead. Dark-eyed Lilian Highsmith. Friendly-looking George Penhal ow; and even Charlotte’s formidable aunt call ida, her hair piled on her head in thick gray waves. There were many other faces as well, ones she didn’t know. It was like looking at a picture book meant to tell you about all the peoples of the world. There were blond Viking-looking Shadowhunters, and a darker-skinned man who looked like a caliph out of her il ustrated The Thousand and One Nights, and an Indian woman in a beautiful sari trimmed with silver runes. She sat beside another woman, who had turned her head and was looking at them. She wore an elegant silk dress, and her face was like Jem’s-the same delicately beautiful features, the same curves to her eyes and cheekbones, though where his hair and eyes were silver, hers were dark.

"Welcome, then, Miss Tessa Gray of New York," said the Consul, sounding amused. "We appreciate your joining us here today. I understand you have already answered quite a few questions for the London Enclave. I had hoped you would be Will ing to answer a few more."

Across the distance that separated them, Tessa’s eyes met Charlotte’s.

Should I?

Charlotte dropped her a nearly imperceptible nod. Please.

Tessa squared her shoulders. "If that is your request, certainly."

"Approach the Council bench, then," said the Consul, and Tessa realized he must mean the long, narrow wooden bench that stood before the lectern.

"And your gentleman friends may escort you," he added.

Will muttered something under his breath, but so quietly even Tessa couldn’t hear it; flanked by Will on her left and Jem on her right, Tessa made her way down the steps and to the bench before the lectern. She stood behind it uncertainly. This close up, she could see that the Consul had friendly blue eyes, unlike the Inquisitor’s, which were a bleak and stormy gray, like a rainy sea.

"Inquisitor Whitelaw," said the Consul to the gray-eyed man, "the Mortal Sword, if you please."

The Inquisitor stood, and from his robes drew a massive blade. Tessa recognized it instantly. It was long and dull silver, its hilt carved in the shape of outspread wings. It was the sword from the Codex, the one that the Angel Raziel had risen from the lake carrying, and had given to Jonathan Shadowhunter, the first of them all.

"Mael artach," she said, giving the Sword its name.

The Consul, taking the Sword, looked amused again. "You have been studying up," he said. "Which of you has been teaching her? William? James?"

"Tessa picks things up on her own, sir," Will ‘s drawl was bland and cheerful, at odds with the grim feeling in the room. "She’s very inquisitive."

"All the more reason she shouldn’t be here." Tessa didn’t have to turn; she knew the voice. Benedict Lightwood. "This is the Gard Council. We don’t bring Downworlders to this place." His voice was tight. "The Mortal Sword cannot be used to make her tell the truth; she’s not a Shadowhunter. What use is it, or her, here?"

"Patience, Benedict." Consul Wayland held the Sword lightly, as if it weighed nothing. His gaze on Tessa was heavier. She felt as if he were searching her face, reading the fear in her eyes. "We are not going to hurt you, little warlock," he said. "The Accords would forbid it."

"You should not call me warlock," Tessa said. "I bear no warlock’s mark." It was strange, having to say this again, but when she had been questioned before, it had always been by members of the Clave, not the Consul himself.

He was a tall, broad-shouldered man, exuding a sense of power and authority. Just that sort of power and authority that Benedict Lightwood so resented Charlotte laying claim to.

"Then, what are you?" he asked.

"She doesn’t know." The Inquisitor’s tone was dry. "Neither do the Silent Brothers."

"She may be all owed to sit," said the Consul. "And to give evidence, but her testimony Will be counted only as half a Shadowhunter’s." He turned to the Branwells. "In the meantime, Henry, you are dismissed from questioning for the moment. Charlotte, please remain."

Tessa swall owed back her resentment and went to sit in the front row of seats, where she was joined by a drawn-looking Henry, whose gingery hair was sticking up wildly. Jessamine was there, in a dress of pale brown alpaca, looking bored and annoyed. Tessa sat down next to her, with Will and Jem on her other side. Jem was directly beside her, and as the seats were narrow, she could feel the warmth of his shoulder against hers.

At first the Council proceeded much as had other meetings of the Enclave.

Charlotte was called upon to give her recollections of the night when the Enclave attacked the stronghold of the vampire de Quincey, killing him and those of his followers who’d been present, while Tessa’s brother, Nate, had betrayed their trust in him and all owed the Magister, Axel Mortmain, entry into the Institute, where he had murdered two of the servants and nearly kidnapped Tessa. When Tessa was called up, she said the same things she had said before, that she did not know where Nate was, that she had not suspected him, that she had known nothing of her powers until the Dark Sisters had shown them to her, and that she had always thought her parents were human.

"Richard and Elizabeth Gray have been thoroughly investigated," said the Inquisitor. "There is no evidence to suggest either was anything but human.

The boy, the brother-human as well. It could well be that, as Mortmain hinted, the girl’s father is a demon, but if so, there is the question of the missing warlock mark."

"Most curious, everything about you, including this power of yours," said the Consul, looking at Tessa with eyes that were steady and pale blue. "You have no idea what its limits, its constructs are? Have you been tested with an item of Mortmain’s? To see if you can access his memories or thoughts?"

"Yes, I-tried. With a button he had left behind him. It should have worked."

"But?"

She shook her head. "I could not do it. There was no spark to it, no-no life. Nothing for me to connect with."

"Convenient," muttered Benedict, almost too low to be heard, but Tessa heard it, and flushed.

The Consul indicated that she might take her seat again. She caught sight of Benedict Lightwood’s face as she did so; his lips were compressed into a thin, furious line. She wondered what she could possibly have said to anger him.

"And no one has seen hide nor hair of this Mortmain since Miss Gray’s . . .

altercation with him in the Sanctuary," the Consul went on as Tessa took her seat.

The Inquisitor flipped some of the papers that were stacked on the lectern.

"His houses have been searched and found to be completely emptied of all his belongings. His warehouses were searched with the same result. Even our friends at Scotland Yard have investigated. The man has vanished. Quite literal y, as our young friend William Herondale tell s us."

Will smiled brilliantly as if complimented, though Tessa, seeing the malice under the smile, thought of light sparking off the cutting edge of a razor.

"My suggestion," said the Consul, "is that Charlotte and Henry Branwel be censured, and that for the next three months their official actions, undertaken on behalf of the Clave, be required to pass through me for approval before -"

"My lord Consul." A firm, clear voice spoke out from the crowd. Heads swiveled, staring; Tessa got the feeling that this-someone interrupting the Consul midspeech-didn’t happen very often. "If I might speak."

The Consul’s eyebrows went up. "Benedict Lightwood," he said. "You had your chance to speak earlier, during the testimonials."

"I hold no arguments with the testimonials given," said Benedict Lightwood. His beaky, sharp profile looked even sharper in the witchlight. "It is your sentence I take issue with."

The Consul leaned forward on the lectern. He was a big man, thick-necked and deep-chested, and his large hands looked as if he could span Benedict’s throat easily with a single one. Tessa rather wished he would.

From what she had seen of Benedict Lightwood, she did not like him. "And why is that?"

"I think you have let your long friendship with the Fairchild family blind you to Charlotte’s shortcomings as head of the Institute," said Benedict, and there was an audible intake of breath in the room. "The blunders committed on the night of July the fifth did more than embarrass the Clave and lose us the Pyxis. We have damaged our relationship with London’s Downworlders by futilely attacking de Quincy."