Clockwork Prince (Page 26)

Clockwork Prince(26)
Author: Cassandra Clare

Bridget dropped a curtsy and left, casting a curious eye over her shoulder at Woolsey Scott as she went. He took no notice of her. He had already poured milk into his teacup and was looking reproachful y at his hostess.

"Oh, Charlotte."

She looked at him in bewilderment. "Yes?"

"The tongs-the sugar tongs," Scott said sadly, in the voice of someone remarking on the tragic death of an acquaintance. "They’re silver."

"Oh!" Charlotte looked startled. Silver, Tessa remembered, was dangerous for werewolves. "I’m so sorry-"

Scott sighed. "It’s quite all right. Fortunately, I travel with my own." From another pocket in his velvet jacket-which was buttoned over a silk waistcoat with a print of water lilies that would have put one of Henry’s to shame-he produced a rol ed-up bit of silk; unrol ing it revealed a set of gold tongs and a teaspoon. He set them on the table, took the lid off the teapot, and looked pleased. "Gunpowder tea! From Ceylon, I presume? Have you ever had the tea in Marrakech? They drench it in sugar or honey-"

"Gunpowder?" said Tessa, who had never been able to stop herself from asking questions even when she knew perfectly well it was a bad idea.

"There isn’t gunpowder in the tea, is there?"

Scott laughed and set the lid back down. He sat back while Charlotte, her mouth set in a thin line, poured tea into his cup. "How charming! No, they call it that because the leaves of the tea are rol ed into smal pel ets that resemble gunpowder."

Charlotte said, "Mr. Scott, we really must discuss the situation at hand."

"Yes, yes, I read your letter." He sighed. "Downworlder politics. So dull. I don’t suppose you’d let me tell you about having my portrait painted by Alma- Tadema? I was dressed as a Roman soldier-"

"Will," said Charlotte firmly. "Perhaps you should share with Mr. Scott what you saw in Whitechapel last night."

Will, somewhat to Tessa’s surprise, obediently did as told, keeping the sarcastic observations to a minimum. Scott watched him over the rim of his teacup as Will spoke. His eyes were such a pale green, they were nearly yel ow.

"Sorry, my boy," he said when Will was done speaking. "I don’t see why this requires an urgent meeting. We’re all aware of the existence of these ifrit dens, and I can’t be watching every member of my pack at every moment. If some of them choose to partake in vice . . ." He leaned closer. "You do know that your eyes are almost the exact shade of pansy petals? Not quite blue, not quite violet. Extraordinary."

Will widened his extraordinary eyes and smirked. "I think it was the mention of the Magister that concerned Charlotte."

"Ah." Scott turned his gaze on Charlotte. "You’re concerned that I’m betraying you the way you thought de Quincey did. That I’m in league with the Magister-let’s just call him by his name, shall we? Mortmain-and I’m letting him use my wolves to do his bidding."

"I had thought," Charlotte said, haltingly, "that perhaps London’s Downworlders felt betrayed by the Institute, after what happened with de Quincey. His death-"

Scott adjusted his monocle. As he did, light flashed along the gold band he wore around his index finger. Words gleamed out against it: L’art pour l’art.

"Was the best surprise I’ve had since I discovered the Savoy Turkish Baths on Jermyn Street. I despised de Quincey. Loathed him with every fiber of my being."

"Well, the Night Children and the Moon’s Children’s have never quite-"

"De Quincey had a werewolf kil ed," Tessa said suddenly, her memories mixing with Camil e’s, with the recol ection of a pair of yel ow-green eyes like Scott’s. "For his-attachment-to Camil e Belcourt."

Woolsey Scott turned a long, curious look on Tessa. "That," he said, "was my brother. My older brother. He was pack leader before me, you see, and I inherited the post. Usual y one must kil to become pack leader. In my case, it was put to a vote, and the task of avenging my brother in the name of the pack was mine. Only now, you see-" He gestured with an elegant hand.

"You’ve taken care of de Quincey for me. You’ve no idea how grateful I am."

He cocked his head to the side. "Did he die well ?"

"He died screaming." Charlotte’s bluntness startled Tessa.

"What a beautiful thing to hear." Scott put down his teacup. "For this you have earned a favor. I Will tell you what I know, though it isn’t much. Mortmain came to me in the early days, wanting me to join with him in the Pandemonium Club. I refused, for de Quincey had already joined, and I would not be part of a club that had him in it. Mortmain let me know there would be a place for me should I change my mind-"

"Did he tell you of his goals?" Will interrupted. "Of the ultimate purpose of the club?"

"The destruction of all Shadowhunters," said Scott. "I rather thought you knew that. It isn’t a gardening club."

"He has a grudge, we think," said Charlotte. "Against the Clave.

Shadowhunters kil ed his parents some years ago. They were warlocks, deep in the study of the black arts."

"Less of a grudge, more of an idee fixe," said Scott. "An obsession. He would see your kind wiped out, though he seems content to start with England and work his way out from there. A patient, methodical sort of madman. The worst kind." He sat back in his chair and sighed. "News has reached me of a group of young wolves, unsworn to any pack, who have been doing some sort of underground work and have been getting paid very well for it. Flashing their tin around among the pack wolves and creating animosities. I did not know about the drug."

"It Will keep them working for him, night and day, until they drop from exhaustion or the drug kil s them," said Will. "And there is no cure for addiction to it. It is deadly."

The werewolf’s yel ow-green eyes met his. "This yin fen, this silver powder, it is what your friend James Carstairs is addicted to, isn’t it? And he’s alive."

"Jem survives it because he is a Shadowhunter, and because he uses as little as possible, as infrequently as possible. And even then it Will kil him in the end." Will ‘s voice was deadly flat. "As would withdrawing from it."

"Well, well," said the werewolf breezily. "I do hope that the Magister’s merrily buying the stuff up doesn’t create a shortage, in that case."

Will went white. It was clear the thought hadn’t occurred to him. Tessa turned toward Will, but he was already on his feet, moving toward the door. It shut behind him with a bang.

Charlotte frowned. "Lord, he’s off to Whitechapel again," she said. "Was that necessary, Woolsey? I think you just terrified the poor boy, and probably for nothing."

"Nothing wrong with a bit of foresight," said Scott. "I took my own brother for granted, until de Quincey kil ed him."

"De Quincey and the Magister were two of a kind-ruthless," Charlotte said. "If you could help us-"

"The whole situation is certainly beastly," observed Scott. "Unfortunately, lycanthropes who are not members of my pack are not my responsibility."

"If you could simply send out feelers, Mr. Scott. Any bit of information about where they are working or what they are doing could be invaluable. The Clave would be grateful."

"Oh, the Clave," said Scott, as if deadly bored. "Very well. Now, Charlotte.

Let us talk about you."

"Oh, but I am very dull," said Charlotte, and she-quite deliberately, Tessa was sure-upset the teapot. It struck the table with a gratifying bang, spil ing hot water. Scott jumped up with a cry, flipping his scarf out of the way of danger. Charlotte rose to her feet, clucking. "Woolsey, dear," she said, placing a hand on his arm, "you’ve been such a help. Let me show you out.

There’s an antique keris that was sent to us from the Bombay Institute I’ve just been yearning to show you. . . ."

Chapter 11: Wild Unrest

Your woe hath been my anguish; yea, I quail

And perish in your perishing unblest.

And I have searched the highths and depths, the scope

Of all our universe, with desperate hope

To find some solace for your wild unrest.

-James Thomson, "The City of Dreadful Night"

To my dear Mrs. Branwell- You may be surprised to receive a letter from me so soon after my departure from London, but despite the sleepiness of the countryside, events here have continued apace, and I thought it best to keep you abreast of developments.

The weather continues fine here, allowing me much time for exploring the countryside, especially the area around Ravenscar Manor, which is indeed a fine old building. The Herondale family appears to live alone there: only the father, Edmund; the mother; and the youngest daughter, Cecily, who is near to fifteen and very like her brother in restlessness, in manner, and in looks. I will arrive at how I know all that in a moment.

Ravenscar itself is near a small village. I set myself up at the local inn, the Black Swan, and posed as a gentleman interested in buying property in the area. The locals have been most forthcoming with information, and when they were not, a persuasion spell or two helped them to see the matter from my point of view.

It seems the Herondales mix very little with local society. Despite- or perhaps because of-this tendency, rumor about them abounds. It seems they do not own Ravenscar Manor but are indeed, by way of its custodians, watching over it for its true owner-A xel Mortmain, of course. Mortmain seems no one to these people but a wealthy industrialist who purchased a country manor he rarely visits; I encountered no rumor about any connection of his to the Shades, whose legacy here seems long forgotten. The Herondales themselves are a matter of curious speculation. It is known that they had a child who died, and that Edmund, whom I knew once, turned to drink and to gambling; eventually he gambled away their home in Wales, whereupon, destitute, they were offered the occupation of this house in Yorkshire by its owner. That was two years ago.

I had all this confirmed for me this afternoon when, watching the manor from a distance, I was startled by the appearance of a girl. I knew who she was immediately. I had seen her go in and out of the house, and her resemblance to her brother Will, as I said, is pronounced. She set into me at once, demanding to know why I was spying on her family. She did not seem angry at first but rather hopeful. "Did my brother send you?" she asked. "Have you any word of my brother?"

It was quite heartbreaking, but I know the Law, and could tell her only that her brother was well and wished to know that they were safe. A t that she became angry and opined that Will could best ensure his family’s safety by returning to them. She also said that it was not the death of her sister (did you know of this sister?) that had undone her father, but rather Will’s desertion. I shall leave it up to your discretion whether to pass this on to young Master Herondale, as it seems news that would do more harm than good.

When I spoke to her of Mortmain, she chatted easily to me of him -a family friend, she said, who had stepped in to offer them this home when they had nothing. A s she spoke, I began to get a sense of how Mortmain thinks. He knows it is against the Law for Nephilim to interfere with Shadowhunters who have chosen to leave the Clave, and that therefore Ravenscar Manor would be avoided; he knows also that the Herondales’ occupancy of it makes the objects in it theirs, and therefore none can be used to track him. A nd last, he knows that power over the Herondales could translate into power over Will. Does he require power over Will? Not now perhaps, but there may be a time when he desires it, and when he does, it will be to hand. He is a well-prepared man, and men such as that are dangerous.

Were I you, and I am not, I would reassure Master Will that his family is safe and I am watching them; avoid speaking to him of Mortmain until I can gather more information. A s far as I can glean from Cecily, the Herondales do not know where Mortmain is. She said that he was in Shanghai, and on occasion they receive correspondence from his company there, all stamped with peculiar stamps. It is my understanding, however, that the Shanghai Institute believes him not to be there.

I told Miss Herondale that her brother missed her; it seemed the least I could do. She appeared gratified. I shall remain in this area a good while longer, I think; I have become myself curious as to how the misfortunes of the Herondales are entwined with Mortmain’s plans. There are still secrets to be unearthed here beneath the peaceful green of the Yorkshire countryside, and I aim to discover them.

-Ragnor Fell Charlotte read the letter over twice, to commit its details to memory, and then, having folded it small, cast it into the drawing room fire. She stood wearily, leaning against the mantel, watching as the flame ate away the paper in lines of black and gold.

She was not sure if she was surprised, or disturbed, or simply made bone- weary by the contents of the letter. Trying to find Mortmain was like reaching to swat a spider, only to realize that you were helplessly entangled in the sticky strands of its web. And Will -she hated to speak of this with him. She looked into the fire with unseeing eyes. Sometimes she thought Will had been sent to her by the Angel specifical y to try her patience. He was bitter, he had a tongue like the lash of a whip, and he met her every attempt to show him love and affection with venom or contempt. And still, when she looked at him, she saw the boy he’d been at twelve, curled in the corner of his bedroom with his hands over his ears as his parents called his name from the steps below, entreating him to come out, to come back to them.

She had knelt beside him after the Herondales had gone away. She remembered him lifting his face to her-smal and white and set, with those blue eyes and dark lashes; he’d been as pretty as a girl then, thin and delicate, before he had thrown himself into Shadowhunter training with such single-mindedness that within two years all that delicacy had been gone, covered over by muscle and scars and Marks. She’d taken his hand then, and he’d let it lie in hers like a dead thing. He’d bitten his lower lip, though he didn’t appear to have noticed, and blood covered his chin and dripped onto his shirt. Charlotte, you’ll tell me, won’t you? You’ll tell me if anything happens to them?