Clockwork Prince (Page 4)

Clockwork Prince(4)
Author: Cassandra Clare

Charlotte looked up with a pained expression. "Jessamine, there is no need for you to remain if you do not wish to. I must say, I doubt any of us was expecting your help in this matter, and since you have never much applied yourself to your studies, I cannot help but wonder if you even know what it is you are looking for. Could you tell a binding spel from a summoning spel if I set the two before you?"

Tessa couldn’t help being surprised. Charlotte was rarely so sharp with any of them. "I want to help," Jessie said sulkily. "Those mechanical things of Mortmain’s nearly kil ed me. I want him caught and punished."

"No, you don’t." Will, unrol ing a parchment so old that it crackled, squinted down at the black symbols on the page. "You want Tessa’s brother caught and punished, for making you think he was in love with you when he wasn’t."

Jessamine flushed. "I do not. I mean, I did not. I mean-ugh! Charlotte, Will ‘s being vexing."

"And the sun has come up in the east," said Jem, to no one in particular.

"I don’t want to be thrown out of the Institute if we can’t find the Magister,"

Jessamine went on. "Is that so difficult to understand?"

"You won’t be thrown out of the Institute. Charlotte will. I’m sure the Lightwoods Will let you stay. And Benedict has two marriageable sons. You ought to be delighted," said Will.

Jessamine made a face. "Shadowhunters. As if I’d want to marry one of them."

"Jessamine, you are one of them."

Before Jessamine could reply, the library door opened and Sophie came in, ducking her white-capped head. She spoke quietly to Charlotte, who rose to her feet. "Brother Enoch is here," Charlotte said to the assembled group. "I must speak with him. Will, Jessamine, do try not to kil each other while I am gone. Henry, if you could . . ."

Her voice trailed off. Henry was gazing down at a book-Al-Jazari’s Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices-and paying no attention whatsoever to anything else. Charlotte threw up her hands, and left the room with Sophie.

The moment the door closed behind Charlotte, Jessamine shot Will a poisonous look. "If you think I don’t have the experience to help, then why is she here?" She indicated Tessa. "I don’t mean to be rude, but do you think she can tell a binding spel from a summoning one?" She looked at Tessa.

"Well, can you? And for that matter, Will, you pay so little attention at lessons, can you tell a binding spel from a souffle recipe?"

Will leaned back in his chair and said dreamily, "’I am but mad north-north- west; when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.’"

"Jessamine, Tessa has kindly offered to help, and we need all the eyes we can get right now," said Jem severely. "Will, don’t quote Hamlet. Henry . . ."

He cleared his throat. "HENRY."

Henry looked up, blinking. "Yes, darling?" He blinked again, looking around. "Where’s Charlotte?"

"She went to talk to the Silent Brothers," said Jem, who did not appear put out of temper to have been mistaken by Henry for his wife. "In the meantime I’m afraid . . . that I rather agree with Jessamine."

"And the sun comes up in the west," said Will, who had apparently heard Jem’s earlier comment.

"But why?" Tessa demanded. "We can’t give up now. It would be just like handing the Institute over to that awful Benedict Lightwood."

"I’m not suggesting we do nothing, you understand. But we’re trying to decipher what it is that Mortmain is going to do. We’re trying to predict the future instead of trying to understand the past."

"We know Mortmain’s past, and his plans." Will waved his hand in the direction of the newspapers. "Born in Devon, was a ship’s surgeon, became a wealthy trader, got himself mixed up in dark magic, and now plans to rule the world with his massive army of mechanical creatures by his side. A not atypical story for a determined young man-"

"I don’t think he ever said anything about ruling the world," interrupted Tessa. "Just the British Empire."

"Admirably literal," said Will. "My point is, we do know where Mortmain came from. It’s hardly our fault that it isn’t very interesting . . ." His voice trailed off. "Ah."

"Ah, what?" Jessamine demanded, looking from Will to Jem in a vexed manner. "I declare, the way you two seem to read each other’s minds gives me the shudders."

"Ah," said Will. "Jem was just thinking, and I would tend to agree, that Mortmain’s life story is, quite simply, balderdash. Some lies, some truth, but very likely there isn’t anything in here that Will help us. These are just stories he made up to give the newspapers something to print about him. Besides, we don’t care how many ships he owns; we want to know where he learned dark magic, and from whom."

"And why he hates Shadowhunters," said Tessa.

Will ‘s blue eyes slid lazily toward her. "Is it hatred?" he said. "I assumed it was a simple greed for domination. With us out of the way, and a clockwork army on his side, he could take power as he liked."

Tessa shook her head. "No, it is more than that. It is difficult to explain, but -he hates the Nephilim. It is something very personal for him. And it has something to do with that watch. It’s-it’s as if he desires recompense for some wrong or hurt they’ve done him."

"Reparations," said Jem very suddenly, setting down the pen he was holding.

Will looked at him in puzzlement. "Is this a game? We just blurt out whatever word comes next to mind? In that case mine’s ‘genuphobia.’ It means an unreasonable fear of knees."

"What’s the word for a perfectly reasonable fear of annoying idiots?"

inquired Jessamine.

"The Reparations section of the archives," said Jem, ignoring them both.

"The Consul mentioned it yesterday, and it’s been in my head since. We haven’t looked there."

"Reparations?" asked Tessa.

"When a Downworlder, or a mundane, all eges that a Shadowhunter has broken the Law in their dealings with them, the Downworlder lodges a complaint through Reparations. There Will be a trial, and the Downworlder Will be accorded some sort of payment, based on whether they can prove their case."

"Well, it seems a bit sil y, looking there," said Will. "It’s not like Mortmain’s going to lodge a complaint against the Shadow-hunters through official channels. ‘Very upset Shadowhunters refused to all die when I wanted them to. Demand recompense. Please mail cheque to A. Mortmain, 18 Kensington Road-‘"

"Enough persiflage," said Jem. "Maybe he hasn’t always hated Shadowhunters. Maybe there was a time when he did attempt to gain compensation through the official system and it failed him. What’s the harm in asking? The worst thing that could happen is that we turn up nothing, which is exactly what we’re turning up right now." He rose to his feet, pushing his silvery hair back. "I’m off to catch Charlotte before Brother Enoch leaves and ask her to have the Silent Brothers check the archives."

Tessa rose to her feet. She did not relish the idea of being left alone in the library with Will and Jessamine, who were bound to bicker. Of course Henry was there, but he seemed to be taking a gentle nap on a pile of books, and was not much of a buffer in the best of cases. Being around Will was uncomfortable in most circumstances; only with Jem there was it bearable.

Somehow Jem was able to whittle down Will ‘s sharp edges and make him nearly human. "I’ll go with you, Jem," she said. "There’s-there was something I wished to speak to Charlotte about anyway."

Jem seemed surprised but pleased; Will looked from one of them to the other and pushed his chair back. "We’ve been among these moldering old books for days now," he announced. "Mine beautiful eyes are weary, and I have paper cuts. See?" He spread his fingers wide. "I’m going for a walk."

Tessa couldn’t help herself. "Perhaps you could use an iratze to take care of them."

He glared at her. His eyes were beautiful. "Ever and always helpful, Tessa."

She matched his glare. "My only desire is to be of service."

Jem put his hand on her shoulder, his voice concerned. "Tessa, Will. I don’t think-"

But Will was gone, snatching up his coat and banging his way out of the library, with enough force to make the door frame vibrate.

Jessamine sat back in her chair, narrowing her brown eyes. "How interesting."

Tessa’s hands shook as she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. She hated that Will had this effect on her. Hated it. She knew better. She knew what he thought of her. That she was nothing, worth nothing. And still a look from him could make her tremble with mingled hatred and longing. It was like a poison in her blood, to which Jem was the only antidote. Only with him did she feel on steady ground.

"Come." Jem took her arm lightly. A gentleman would not normal y touch a lady in public, but here in the Institute the Shadowhunters were more familiar with one another than were the mundanes outside. When she turned to look at him, he smiled at her. Jem put the full force of himself into each smile, so that he seemed to be smiling with his eyes, his heart, his whole being. "We’l find Charlotte."

"And what am I supposed to do while you’re gone?" Jessamine said crossly as they made their way to the door.

Jem glanced back over his shoulder. "You could always wake up Henry. It looks like he’s eating paper in his sleep again, and you know how Charlotte hates that."

"Oh, bother," said Jessamine with an exasperated sigh. "Why do I always get the sil y tasks?"

"Because you don’t want the serious ones," said Jem, sounding as close to exasperated as Tessa had ever heard him. Neither of them noticed the icy look she shot them as they left the library behind and headed down the corridor.

"Mr. Bane has been awaiting your arrival, sir," the footman said, and stepped aside to let Will enter. The footman’s name was Archer-or Walker, or something like that, Will thought-and he was one of Camil e’s human subjugates. Like all those enslaved to a vampire’s will, he was sickly-looking, with parchment pale skin and thin, stringy hair. He looked about as happy to see Will as a dinner party guest might be to see a slug crawling out from under his lettuce.

The moment Will entered the house, the smel hit him. It was the smel of dark magic, like sulfur mixed with the Thames on a hot day. Will wrinkled his nose. The footman looked at him with even more loathing. "Mr. Bane is in the drawing room." His voice indicated that there was no chance whatsoever that he was going to accompany Will there. "Shal I take your coat?"

"That won’t be necessary." Coat still on, Will fol owed the scent of magic down the corridor. It intensified as he drew nearer to the door of the drawing room, which was firmly closed. Tendrils of smoke threaded out from the gap beneath the door. Will took a deep breath of sour air, and pushed the door open.

The inside of the drawing room looked peculiarly bare. After a moment Will realized that this was because Magnus had taken all the heavy teak furniture, even the piano, and pushed it up against the wal s. An ornate gasolier hung from the ceiling, but the light in the room was provided by dozens of thick black candles arranged in a circle in the center of the room.

Magnus stood beside the circle, a book open in his hands; his old-fashioned cravat was loosened, and his black hair stood up wildly about his face as if charged with electricity. He looked up when Will came in, and smiled. "Just in time!" he cried. "I really think we may have him this round. Will, meet Thammuz, a minor demon from the eighth dimension. Thammuz, meet Will, a minor Shadowhunter from-Wales, was it?"

"I will rip out your eyes," hissed the creature sitting in the center of the burning circle. It was certainly a demon, no more than three feet high, with pale blue skin, three coal black, burning eyes, and long blood-red talons on its eight-fingered hands. "I will tear the skin from your face."

"Don’t be rude, Thammuz," said Magnus, and although his tone was light, the circle of candles blazed suddenly, brightly upward, causing the demon to shrink in on itself with a scream. "Wil has questions. You Will answer them."

Will shook his head. "I don’t know, Magnus," he said. "He doesn’t look like the right one to me."

"You said he was blue. This one’s blue."

"He is blue," Will acknowledged, stepping closer to the circle of flame. "But the demon I need-well, he was really a cobalt blue. This one’s more . . .

periwinkle."

"What did you call me?" The demon roared with rage. "Come closer, little Shadowhunter, and let me feast upon your liver! I will tear it from your body while you scream."

Will turned to Magnus. "He doesn’t sound right either. The voice is different. And the number of eyes."

"Are you sure-"

"I’m absolutely sure," said Will in a voice that brooked no contradiction. "It’s not something I would ever-could ever-forget."

Magnus sighed and turned back to the demon. "Thammuz," he said, reading aloud from the book. "I charge you, by the power of bel and book and candle, and by the great names of Sammael and Abbadon and Moloch, to speak the truth. Have you ever encountered the Shadowhunter Will Herondale before this day, or any of his blood or lineage?"

"I don’t know," said the demon petulantly. "Humans all look alike to me."

Magnus’s voice rose, sharp and commanding. "Answer me!"

"Oh, very well. No, I’ve never seen him before in my life. I’d remember.

He looks as if he’d taste good." The demon grinned, showing razor-sharp teeth. "I haven’t even been to this world for, oh, a hundred years, possibly more. I can never remember the difference between a hundred and a thousand. A nyway, the last time I was here, everyone was living in mud huts and eating bugs. So I doubt he was around"-he pointed a many- jointed finger at Will -"unless Earthkind lives much longer than I was led to believe."