Clockwork Princess (Page 45)

Clockwork Princess(45)
Author: Cassandra Clare

"How does one make the Portal work?" Cecily asked, glancing at the glowing archway as if it were a painting in a gallery, her dark head cocked to the side.

"It will transport you instantly from one place to another," said Henry. "But the trick is-well, that part is magic." He said the word a little nervously.

"You need to be picturing the place you’re going to," said Magnus. "It won’t work to take you to a place you have never been and cannot imagine. In this case, to get to Cadair Idris, we are going to need Cecily. Cecily, how close to Cadair Idris do you believe you can bring us?"

"To the very top," Cecily said confidently. "There are several paths that will bring you up the mountain, and I have walked two of them with my father. I can remember the crest of the mountain."

"Excellent," Henry said. "Cecily, you will stand before the Portal and visualize our destination-"

"But she’s not going first, is she?" Gabriel demanded. The moment the words were out of his mouth, he was startled. He hadn’t meant to say them. Ah, well, in for a penny, in for a pound, though, he thought. "I meant: She is the least trained of us all; it wouldn’t be safe."

"I can go through first," Cecily said, looking as if she were not in the least grateful for Gabriel’s support. "I see no reason why-"

"Henry!" It was Charlotte, reappearing at the foot of the steps. Behind her were the servants of the Institute, all in training gear-Bridget, looking as if she were out for a morning stroll; Cyril, set and determined; and Sophie, carrying a large leather bag.

Behind them were three more men. Tall men, in parchment robes, moving with peculiar gliding motions.

Silent Brothers.

Unlike any other Silent Brothers that Gabriel had seen before, though, these were armed. Weapons belts were cinched around their waists, over their robes, and from their belts hung long, curved blades, their hilts made of shimmering adamas, the same material used to make steles and seraph blades.

Henry looked up, puzzled-then guiltily, from the Portal, to the Brothers. His lightly freckled face paled. "Brother Enoch," he said. "I-"

Calm yourself. The Silent Brother’s voice rang out in all their minds. We have not come to warn you of any possible breach of the Law, Henry Branwell. We have come to fight with you.

"To fight with us?" Gideon looked amazed. "But Silent Brothers don’t- I mean, they aren’t warriors-"

That is incorrect. Shadowhunters we were and Shadowhunters we remain, even when changed to become Brothers. We were founded by Jonathan Shadowhunter himself, and though we live by the book, we may yet die by the sword if we so choose.

Charlotte was beaming. "They learned of my message," she said. "They came. Brother Enoch, Brother Micah, and Brother Zachariah."

The two Brothers behind Enoch inclined their heads silently. Gabriel fought off a shiver. He had always found the Silent Brothers eerie, though he knew they were an integral part of Shadowhunter life.

"Brother Enoch also told me why no one else came," Charlotte said, the smile vanishing from her face. "Consul Wayland convened a Council meeting this morning, though he told us nothing of it. Attendance for all Shadowhunters was mandatory by Law."

Henry’s breath hissed out through his teeth. "That ba-bad man," he finished, with a quick glance at Cecily, who rolled her eyes. "What’s the Council meeting about?"

"Replacing us as heads of the Institute," Charlotte said. "He still believes Mortmain’s attack will come against London, and that a strong leader here is needed to stand against the clockwork army."

"Mrs. Branwell!" Sophie, in the act of handing to Magnus the bag she had been carrying, nearly dropped it. "They can’t do that!"

"Oh, they very well can," said Charlotte. She looked around at all their faces, and raised her chin. In that moment, despite her small size, Gabriel thought, she seemed taller than the Consul. "We all knew this would come," she said. "It does not matter. We are Shadowhunters, and our duty is to each other and to what we think is right. We believe Will, and we believe in Will. Faith has brought us this far; it will bring us a little farther. The Angel watches over us, and we shall win out."

Everyone was silent. Gabriel looked around at their faces-determined, every one-and even Magnus seemed, if not moved or convinced, considering and respectful. "Mrs. Branwell," he said at last. "If Consul Wayland does not consider you a leader, he is a fool."

Charlotte inclined her head toward him. "Thank you," she said. "But we should waste no more time-we must go, and quickly, for this matter can wait on us no longer."

Henry looked for a long moment at his wife, and then toward Cecily. "Are you ready?"

Will’s sister nodded, and moved forward to stand before the Portal. Its gleaming light cast the shadow of unfamiliar runes across her small, determined face.

"Visualize," said Magnus. "Imagine as hard as you can that you are looking at the top of Cadair Idris."

Cecily’s hands clenched at her sides. As she stared, the Portal began to move, the runes to ripple and change. The darkness within the archway lightened. Suddenly Gabriel was no longer looking at shadow. He was gazing at a portrait of a landscape that could have been painted within the Portal-the green curve of the top of a mountain, a lake as blue and deep as the sky.

Cecily gave a little gasp-and then, unprompted, stepped forward, and vanished through the archway. It was like watching a sketch being erased. First her hands vanished into the Portal, and then her arms, outstretched, and then her body.

And she was gone.

Charlotte gave a little shriek. "Henry!"

There was a buzzing in Gabriel’s ears. He could hear Henry reassuring Charlotte that this was the way the Portal was meant to function, that nothing untoward had happened, but it was like a song half-heard from another room, the words a rhythm without meaning. All he knew was that Cecily, braver than all of them, had stepped through the unknown doorway and was gone. And he could not let her go alone.

He moved forward. He heard his brother call his name, but he ignored him; pushing past Gideon, he reached the Portal, and stepped through it.

For a moment there was nothing but blackness. Then a great hand seemed to reach out of the darkness and snatch hold of him, and he was pulled into the whirling inky maelstrom.

The great Council room was full of people shouting.

On the raised platform at the center stood Consul Wayland, staring out at the shouting throng with a look of furious impatience on his face. His dark eyes raked the Shadowhunters congregated in front of him: George Penhallow was locked in a screaming match with Sora Kaidou of the Tokyo Institute; Vijay Malhotra was jabbing a thin finger into the chest of Japheth Pangborn, who rarely left his manor house in the Idris countryside these days, and who had turned as red as a tomato at the indignity of it all. Two of the Blackwells had cornered Amalia Morgenstern, who was snapping at them in German. Aloysius Starkweather, all in black, stood beside one of the wooden benches, his wiry limbs nearly bent up around his ears as he glared up at the podium with sharp old eyes.

The Inquisitor, standing beside Consul Wayland, slammed his wooden staff down against the floor hard enough to nearly shatter the floorboards. "That is ENOUGH!" he roared. "All of you will be silent, and you will be silent now. SIT DOWN."

A ripple of shock went through the room-and, to the Consul’s evident surprise, they sat. Not quietly, but they sat-all who had room to sit. The chamber was filled to bursting; this many Shadowhunters rarely appeared at any one meeting. There were representatives here from all the Institutes-New York, Bangkok, Geneva, Bombay, Kyoto, Buenos Aires. Only the London Shadowhunters, Charlotte Branwell and her cohorts, were absent.

Only Aloysius Starkweather remained standing, his ragged dark cloak flapping about him like crow’s wings. "Where is Charlotte Branwell?" he demanded. "It was understood from the message you sent out that she would be here to explain the contents of her message to the Council."

"I will explain the contents of her message," said the Consul through gritted teeth.

"It would be preferable to hear it from her," said Malhotra, his dark eyes keen as he looked from the Consul to the Inquisitor and back. Inquisitor Whitelaw looked drawn, as if he had been suffering recent sleepless nights; his mouth was tight at the corners.

"Charlotte Branwell is overreacting," said the Consul. "I take full responsibility for having put her in charge of the London Institute. It was something I should never have done. She has been relieved of her position."

"I have had occasion to meet and speak with Mrs. Branwell," said Starkweather in his hoarse Yorkshire tones. "She does not strike me as someone who would easily overreact."

Looking as if he remembered exactly why he had been so glad Starkweather had ceased attending Council meetings, the Consul said tightly: "She is in a delicate way, and I believe she has become … overset."

Chatter and confusion. The Inquisitor looked over at Wayland and gave him a narrow glance of disgust. The Consul returned his look with a glare. It was clear that the two men had been arguing: The Consul was flushed with anger, the look he bent toward the Inquisitor in return filled with betrayal. It was clear that Whitelaw did not agree with the Consul’s words.

A woman rose to her feet from the crowded benches. She had white hair piled high on her head and an imperious manner. The Consul looked as if he were groaning inwardly. Callida Fairchild, Charlotte Branwell’s aunt. "If you are suggesting," she said in a frozen voice, "that my niece is making hysterical and unreasonable decisions because she is carrying one of the next generation of Shadowhunters, Consul, I suggest you think again."

The Consul ground his teeth. "There is no evidence that Charlotte Branwell’s statements that Mortmain is in Wales have any truth to them," he said. "It all stems from the reports of Will Herondale, who is only a boy, and a reprehensibly irresponsible one at that. All evidence, including the journals of Benedict Lightwood, point to an attack on London, and it is there we must marshal our forces."

A buzz went through the room, the words "an attack on London" repeated over and over. Amalia Morgenstern fanned herself with a lace handkerchief, while Lilian Highsmith, her fingers stroking the haft of a dagger protruding from the wrist of one glove, looked delighted.

"Evidence," snapped Callida. "My niece’s word is evidence-"

There was another rustle, and a young woman rose to her feet. She wore a bright green dress and a defiant expression. The last time the Consul had seen her, she had been sobbing in this same Council room, demanding justice. Tatiana Blackthorn, nee Lightwood.

"The Consul is right about Charlotte Branwell!" she exclaimed. "Charlotte Branwell and William Herondale are the reason my husband is dead!"

"Oh?" It was Inquisitor Whitelaw, his tone dripping with sarcasm. "Who exactly killed your husband? Was it Will?"

There was a murmur of astonishment. Tatiana looked outraged. "It was not my father’s fault-"

"On the contrary," interrupted the Inquisitor. "This was kept from public knowledge, Mrs. Blackthorn, but you force my hand. We opened an investigation into the matter of your husband’s death, and it was determined that your father was indeed at fault, most grievous fault. If it were not for the actions of your brothers-and of William Herondale and Charlotte Branwell, among the others of the London Institute-the name of Lightwood would be stricken from the Shadowhunter records and you would be living the rest of your life as a friendless mundane."

Tatiana turned beet red and clenched her fists. "William Herondale has-he has offered me insults unspeakable to a lady-"

"I fail to see how that is germane to the matter at hand," said the Inquisitor. "One may be rude in one’s personal life but also correct about larger matters."

"You took our house!" Tatiana screeched. "I am forced to rely on the generosity of my husband’s family like some starving beggar-"

The Inquisitor’s eyes were glittering to match the stones in his rings. "Your house was confiscated, Mrs. Blackthorn, not stolen. We searched the Lightwood family house," he went on, raising his voice. "It was full of evidence of the elder Mr. Lightwood’s connections to Mortmain, journals detailing acts vile and filthy and unspeakable. The Consul cites the man’s journals as evidence that there will be an attack on London, but by the time Benedict Lightwood died, he was mad with demon pox. Nor is it likely Mortmain would have confided his true plans to him, even had he been sane."

Looking nearly desperate, Consul Wayland interrupted. "The matter of Benedict Lightwood is closed-closed, and irrelevant. We are here to discuss the matters of Mortmain and the Institute! First, as Charlotte Branwell has been removed from the position, and the situation facing us is centered most heavily upon London, we require a new leader of the London Enclave. I am going to throw the floor open. Does anyone wish to step forward as her replacement?"

There was a rustle and murmur. George Penhallow had begun to rise to his feet-when the Inquisitor burst in furiously: "This is ridiculous, Josiah. There is no proof yet that Mortmain is not where Charlotte says he will be. We have not even begun to discuss sending reinforcements after her-"

"After her? What do you mean after her?"

The Inquisitor swept an arm out at the throng. "She is not here. Where do you think the inhabitants of the London Institute are? They have gone to Cadair Idris, after the Magister. And yet, instead of discussing whether we shall give them aid, we convene a Council to discuss Charlotte’s replacement?"

The Consul’s temper snapped. "There will be no aid!" he roared. "There will never be aid for those who-"

But the Council never found out who was destined to go unaided, for at that moment a steel blade, deadly sharp, whipped through the air behind the Consul and neatly severed his head from his body.