Clockwork Princess (Page 30)

Clockwork Princess(30)
Author: Cassandra Clare

"The Lethal Bonnet," Henry declared.

"Ah," said Magnus. "In times of need a lady can produce weapons from it with which to slay her enemies."

"Well, no," Henry admitted. "That does sound like a rather better idea. I do wish you had been on the spot when I had the notion. Unfortunately this bonnet wraps about the head of one’s enemy and suffocates them, provided that they are wearing it at the time."

"I imagine that it will not be easy to persuade Mortmain into a bonnet," Magnus observed. "Though the color would be fetching on him."

Henry burst into laughter. "Very droll, Mr. Bane."

"Please, call me Magnus."

"I shall!" Henry tossed the bonnet over his shoulder and picked up a round glass jar of a sparkling substance. "This is a powder that when applied to the air causes ghosts to become visible," Henry said.

Magnus tilted the jar of shining grains up to the lamp admiringly, and when Henry beamed in an encouraging fashion, Magnus removed the cork. "It seems very fine to me," he said, and on a whim he poured it upon his hand. It coated his brown skin, gloving one hand in shimmering luminescence. "And in addition to its practical uses, it would seem to work for cosmetic purposes. This powder would make my very skin glimmer for eternity."

Henry frowned. "Not eternity," he said, but then he brightened. "But I could make you up another batch whenever you please!"

"I could shine at will!" Magnus grinned at Henry. "These are fascinating items, Mr. Branwell. You think differently about the world than any other Nephilim I have ever encountered. I confess I thought your people somewhat lacking in imagination, though high on personal drama, but you have given me a completely different opinion! Surely the Shadowhunter community must honor you and hold you in high esteem as a gentleman who has truly advanced their race."

"No," Henry said sadly. "Mostly they wish that I would stop suggesting new inventions and cease setting fire to things."

"But all invention comes with risk!" cried Magnus. "I have seen the transformation wrought on the world by the invention of the steam engine, and the proliferation of printed materials, the factories and mills which have changed the face of England. Mundanes have taken the world into their hands and made of it a marvelous thing. Warlocks throughout the ages have dreamed up and perfected different spells to make themselves a different world. Would the Shadowhunters be the only ones to remain stagnant and changeless, and therefore doomed? How can they turn up their noses at the genius that you have displayed? It is like turning toward shadows and away from light."

Henry blushed a scarlet color. It was clear that no one had ever complimented his inventing before, except perhaps Charlotte. "You humble me, Mr. Bane."

"Magnus," the warlock reminded him. "Now may I see your work upon this portal you were describing? The invention that transports a living being from one spot to another?"

"Of course." Henry drew a heavy pile of notepaper from one corner of his cluttered table, and pushed it toward Magnus. The warlock took it and flicked through the pages with interest. Each page was covered with crabbed, spidery handwriting, and dozens and dozens of equations, blending mathematics and runes in a startling harmony. Magnus felt his heart beating faster as he flipped through the pages-this was genius, real genius. There was only one problem.

"I see what you are trying to do," he said. "And it is almost perfected, but-"

"Yes, almost." Henry ran his hands through his gingery hair, upsetting his goggles. "The portal can be opened, but there is no way to direct it. No way to know if you will step through it to your intended destination in this world or into another world altogether, or even into Hell. It is too risky, and therefore useless."

"You cannot do this with these runes," said Magnus. "You need runes other than the ones you are using."

Henry shook his head. "We can use only the runes from the Gray Book. Anything else is magic. Magic is not the way of the Nephilim. It is something we may not do."

Magnus looked at Henry for a long thoughtful moment. "It is something that I can do," he declared, and drew the stack of papers toward him.

Unseelie Court faeries did not like too much light. The first thing Sallows-whose name was not really that-had done upon returning to his shop had been to put up waxed paper over the window that the Nephilim boy had so heedlessly broken. His spectacles were gone too, lost in the waters of the Limehouse Cut. And no one, it seemed, was going to pay him for the very expensive papers he had ordered for Benedict Lightwood. Altogether it had been a very bad day.

He looked up peevishly as the shop bell tinkled, warning of the opening of the door, and he frowned. He thought he had locked it. "Back again, Nephilim?" he snapped. "Decided to throw me into the river not once but twice? I’ll have you know I have powerful friends-"

"I don’t doubt you do, trickster." The tall, hooded figure in the entryway reached around and pulled the door shut behind him. "And I am very interested in learning more about them." A cold iron blade flashed in the dimness, and the satyr’s eyes widened in fear. "I have some questions to ask you," said the man in the doorway. "And I wouldn’t try to run if I were you. Not if you want to keep your fingers attached to your body…."

Chapter 13 The Mind Has Mountains

O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall

Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap

May who ne’er hung there. Nor does long our small

Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,

Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all

Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins, "No Worse, There Is None"

Tessa could never remember later if she had screamed as she had fallen. She remembered only a long and silent fall, the river and the rocks hurtling toward her, the sky at her feet. The wind tore at her face and hair as she twisted in the air, and she felt a sharp jerk at her throat.

Her hands flew up. Her angel necklace was lifting over her head, as if an enormous hand had reached down out of the sky to remove it. A metallic blur surrounded her, a pair of great wings opening like gates, and something caught at her, arresting her fall. Her eyes widened-it was impossible, unimaginable-but her angel, her clockwork angel, had grown somehow to the size of a living human being and was hovering over her, its great mechanical wings beating against the wind. She stared up into a blank, beautiful face, the face of a statue made of metal, as expressionless as ever-but the angel had hands, as articulate as her own, and they were holding her, holding her up as the wings beat and beat and beat and she fell slowly now, gently, like a puff of dandelion fluff blown on the wind.

Maybe I am dying, Tessa thought. And, This cannot be. But as the angel held her, and they drifted together toward earth, the ground came clearer and clearer into focus. She could see the individual rocks by the side of the stream now, the currents as they ran downstream, the reflection of the sun in the water. The shadow of wings appeared against the earth and grew wider and wider until she was falling into it, falling into the shadow, and she and the angel plunged together to the ground and landed in the soft dirt and scattered rocks at the side of the stream.

Tessa gasped as she landed, more from shock than impact, and reached up, as if she could cushion the angel’s fall with her body-but it was shrinking already, growing smaller and smaller, its wings folding in on themselves, until it struck the ground by her side, the size of a toy once more. She reached out a shaking hand and seized it. She was lying on uneven rocks, half-in, half-out of the chilly water; it was already soaking through her skirts. She seized the pendant and crawled up the side of the stream with the remainder of her strength, and collapsed at last on dry ground with the angel pressed against her chest, ticking its familiar beat against her heart.

Sophie sat in the armchair by the side of Jem’s bed that had always been Will’s place, and watched Jem sleep.

There had been a time, she thought, when she would have been almost grateful for this opportunity, a chance to be so close to him, to place cold cloths against his forehead when he stirred and murmured and burned with fever. And though she no longer loved him as she once had-the way, she realized now, one loved someone one did not know at all, with admiration and distance-it still wrung her heart to see him like this.

One of the girls in the town where Sophie had grown up had died of consumption, and Sophie recalled how they had all talked of the way the disease had made her more beautiful before it killed her-made her pale and slender, and flushed her face with a hectic rosy glow. Jem had that fever in his cheeks now as he tossed against his pillows; his silvery-white hair was like frost, and his restless fingers twitched against the blanket. Every once in a while he spoke, but the words were in Mandarin, and she did not know them. He called out for Tessa. Wo ai ni, Tessa. Bu lu run, he qing kuang fa sheng, wo men dou hui zai yi qi. And he called out for Will as well, sheng si zhi jiao, in a way that made Sophie want to take his hand and hold it, though when she did reach to touch him, he was burning up with fever and snatched his hand away with a cry.

Sophie shrank back against the chair, wondering if she should call for Charlotte. Charlotte would want to know if Jem’s condition worsened. She was about to rise to her feet, when Jem suddenly gasped and his eyes flew open. She sank back into the chair, staring. His irises were such a pale silver that they were nearly white. "Will?" he said. "Will, is that you?"

"No," she said, almost afraid to move. "It is Sophie."

He exhaled softly and turned his head toward her on the pillow. She saw him focus on her face with an effort-and then, incredibly, he smiled, that smile of great sweetness that had first won her heart. "Of course," he said. "Sophie. Will is not- I sent Will away."

"He has gone after Tessa," Sophie said.

"Good." Jem’s long hands plucked at the blanket, contracted once into fists-and then relaxed. "I-am glad."

"You miss him," Sophie said.

Jem nodded slowly. "I can feel it-his distance, like a cord inside me pulled very, very tightly. I did not expect that. We have not been apart since we became parabatai."

"Cecily said you sent him away."

"Yes," said Jem. "He was difficult to persuade. I think if he were not in love with Tessa himself, I would not have been able to make him go."

Sophie’s mouth fell open. "You knew?"

"Not for long," Jem said. "No, I would not be that cruel. If I had known, I would never have proposed. I would have stood back. I did not know. And yet, now, as everything is going away from me, all things appear in such a clear light that I think I would have come to know it, even if he had not told me. At the end of things, I would have known." He smiled a little at Sophie’s stricken expression. "I am glad I did not have to wait until the end."

"You’re not angry?"

"I am glad," he said. "They will be able to take care of each other when I am gone, or at least I can hope for it. He says she does not love him, but-surely she will come to love him in time. Will is easy to love, and he has given her his whole heart. I can see it. I hope she will not break it."

Sophie could not think of a word to say. She did not know what anyone could say in the face of love like this-so much forbearance, so much endurance, so much hope. There had been many times in these past months when she’d regretted that she had ever had a bad thought about Will Herondale, when she saw how he had stood back and allowed Tessa and Jem to be happy together, and she knew the agony that had come to Tessa along with the happiness, in the knowledge that she was hurting Will. Sophie alone, she thought, knew that Tessa called out for Will sometimes when she slept; she alone knew that the scar on Tessa’s palm was not from an accidental encounter with a fireplace poker but a deliberate wound, inflicted on herself that she might, somehow, physically match the emotional pain she’d felt in denying Will. Sophie had held Tessa while she’d wept and torn the flowers out of her hair that were the color of Will’s eyes, and Sophie had covered up with powder the evidence of tears and sleepless nights.

Should she tell him? Sophie wondered. Would it really be a kindness to say, Yes, Tessa loves him too; she has tried not to, but she does? Could any man honestly want to hear that about the girl he was going to marry? "Miss Gray has great regard for Mr. Herondale, and she would not break any heart lightly, I think," Sophie said. "But I wish you would not speak as if your death were inevitable, Mr. Carstairs. Even now Mrs. Branwell and the others are hopeful of finding a cure. I think you will live to old age with Miss Gray, and the both of you very happy."

He smiled as if he knew something she did not. "That is kind of you to say, Sophie. I know I am a Shadowhunter, and we do not pass easily from this life. We fight to the last. We come from the realm of angels, and yet we fear it. I think, though, that one can face the end and not be afraid without having bowed under to death. Death shall never rule me."

Sophie looked at him, a little worried; he sounded part delirious to her. "Mr. Carstairs? Shall I fetch Charlotte?"

"In a moment, but, Sophie-in your expression, just there, when I spoke-" He leaned forward. "Is it true, then?"

"Is what true?" she asked him in a small voice, but she knew what the question would be, and she could not lie to Jem.

Will was in a foul mood. The day had dawned foggy, wet, and dreadful. He had woken feeling sick to his stomach, and had only barely been able to choke down the rubbery eggs and cold bacon the landlord’s wife had served him in the stuffy parlor; every part of his body had hummed to get back to the road and continue on his journey.

Bouts of rain had left him shivering in his clothes despite a liberal use of warming runes, and Balios disliked the mud that sucked at his hooves as they tried to make speed along the road, Will grumpily contemplating how it was possible that fog might actually condense upon the inside of one’s clothes. He had at least made it to Northamptonshire, which was something, but he had covered barely twenty miles and flatly refused to stop, though Balios looked at him entreatingly as they passed through Towcester, as if begging for a warm room in a stable and some oats, and Will was almost inclined to give it to him. A sense of hopelessness had invaded his bones, as chill and inescapable as the rain. What did he think he was doing? Did he really think he would find Tessa this way? Was he a fool?