Chapter 1: Not Particularly Ready at All
It was the first day of October, which meant the dreadful departure to Shadowhunter Academy that Chris had been trying not to think about for weeks was finally happening. The only good thing about going to the Academy would be that two of his siblings were going as well. None of them wanted to go but they had no choice.
“Chris, are you coming? We’re going to be late!” Jocelyn shouted from downstairs.
“One second!” he answered and allowed himself one last look around his room. It was strange seeing it so clean and tidy. Had it not been for the drawings on the walls Clary and Jocelyn had given to him and all the knickknacks on the shelves he’d acquired throughout his life, one could confuse it for a room in an inn. Still, without the chaos it didn’t feel like his room anymore. Shadowhunter Academy would only last two years, and it wasn’t a prison, he could visit his parents. So why did he feel like he was leaving this house behind forever?
He sighed and left, closing the door behind him. His leather suitcase in his hand and his sword strapped to his back, he was as ready as he could be. Which was not particularly ready at all.
“There you are, come on, come on, put your suitcase in the carriage and say goodbye to your brother,” Jocelyn said.
She seemed nervous and irritated. Chris couldn’t blame her, after all, three of her four children were leaving simultaneously and the place they were going to stay at had a lot of bad memories attached to it.
“Promise you’ll visit?” Robert asked his brother.
He was only nine years old, too young to even bear his first Mark. Chris wondered if three years from now, he’d receive the same letter his siblings had received. Though unlike the older Waylands, Robert had a bunch of friends already and therefore likely wouldn’t mind going to the Academy in the first place.
“Of course, we will! We’ll miss you a lot, Robbie,” Chris answered, and ruffled his hair. Then he hugged him goodbye and went inside the carriage.
The others were already inside while Michael was sitting in the front. Chris had barely made it inside when the carriage started moving. Worry washed over Clary’s face and she and Chris both looked outside to have one last look at Wayland manor, their beloved home. It was a beautiful, old building that had belonged to their father’s family for generations and the only home they knew. Leaving it felt wrong.
Unlike his siblings, Jon simply stared forward with a stubborn grimness that Chris found impossible to interpret.
They rode in silence, after a while passing what had once been Fairchild manor but now were only ruins. Jocelyn looked away quickly, a pained expression on her face and Chris shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He hated when he got glimpses of her vulnerability. No child likes seeing its mother in pain.
This was where he’d been born, where Jocelyn had been born and raised. But Valentine Morgenstern—the man who was his father, but whom he’d never see as such—had burned it down with Chris’s grandparents still inside. Jocelyn had killed him in front of the house and ended his brutal reign of terror right after. But for many people—including her parents—it had been too late.
Sometimes, Chris was wondering what would have happened had Valentine managed to escape. Would he be evil now too, had he been raised by this monster? Would he believe what Valentine had believed? He shook his head. No, he would not think about what could have been and be glad that it hadn’t happened. He would appreciate the life he had thanks to his mother’s bravery.
After a while, Clary broke the silence, saving him from his terrible thoughts.
“What’s it like, Mum? Going to the Academy, I mean.”
Jocelyn sighed. “I don’t know what to tell you. I hope it will be quite different than it was back in my day. I loved it there, but it was a place that made it possible for the Circle to thrive. I hope they have made precautions to prevent such a thing from happening again and the Clave isn’t planning on hiding the Circle’s deeds anymore. Our deeds.”
Someone in the Clave had come up with the idea to reopen the Academy and force all children of former Circle members to attend to make sure they hadn’t been corrupted by their parents’ ideals. It was a surprising proposal coming from a Shadowhunter and it was even stranger that the majority had voted in favour of it. Perhaps since the next signing of the Accords was only a year away, they were reminded of what had happened during the Uprising. Though it seemed strange to put them all together at the very place the Circle had been formed in the first place. Chris wasn’t sure what to make of that, but he knew if he and his siblings had turned out fine, they couldn’t be the only ones.
Chris worried much more about how people would treat him, knowing he was the Circle founder’s son. He assumed it didn’t matter to anyone that it had been Jocelyn and Michael who’d raised him. For them, he’d probably always be a Morgenstern and be punished for his father’s sins. It made it easy to hate Valentine even more than he already did.
He looked over at Clary, who was Valentine’s child too. Nobody knew, and Chris would make sure nobody would ever find out. He didn’t want her to be treated the way he was. She had been born shortly after Michael and Jocelyn had married and everyone had assumed she was their daughter because of it. Neither Jocelyn nor Michael felt the need to correct them. If anyone were to look into it, they would certainly begin to question her identity. But the truth was, nobody wanted to believe that there was another Morgenstern left in this world.
Nobody but Jocelyn and Michael had known the truth until the letter from the Academy had reached them. Jocelyn had worried someone would start to investigate the Circle again and finally decided to tell her three older children that Clary wasn’t Michael’s biological daughter either.
“I’m sorry you have to suffer because of what Valentine did,” Jocelyn had told him afterwards. “Of what I did, too. I wish I could protect you from their stares and their whispers and their suspicions.”
She had cried, it had been the first time he’d seen his mother cry. Michael had comforted her while declaring that both Clary and Chris were as much his children as Jon and Robert were. And Chris had believed him, there was no reason to see Michael as anything but his father.
But there had been times when Jocelyn had looked at him with something like regret. He would never tell her he’d noticed, he knew that she loved him. But he also knew there was something dark within him and he sometimes wondered if she knew.
Once again, his thoughts were interrupted, this time because the carriage stopped. He felt his stomach twist and a lump formed in his throat. Everything would be fine. He wasn’t alone, it would only last two years. And still, every instinct in his body told him to stay in the carriage and go back home.
But Jocelyn opened the door and they scrambled out of the carriage, a huge building with towers and spires now in front of them. The Academy was ancient. There was a stained-glass window at its centre depicting the angel Raziel wielding a sword. Around the Academy, Chris could see the training grounds, now empty. As he looked at the building more closely, he noticed that one of the towers was leaning at an angle he was sure it wasn’t supposed to.
“Was that tower always that … crooked?” Clary asked their parents, as often thinking what Chris was thinking.
“Don’t worry,” Michael said thoughtfully. “It looks just as it did back then.”
Looking at his parents they seemed overcome with nostalgia. And not the good kind. It hurt to see them this way. He was witnessing their vulnerability way too often lately.
“Shall we go?” Chris asked to snap them out of whatever they were musing over.
They nodded absentmindedly and started walking towards Hell. He meant the Academy. Same thing, really. Clary and Chris exchanged a look and wordlessly agreed they wouldn’t tell their parents if anything bad were to happen at the Academy.
There was a stern looking man standing near the entrance. As he spotted them, his face darkened even more. How inviting.
“Mr. and Mrs. Wayland,” he nodded to Michael and Jocelyn. It was rare for Shadowhunters that already knew each other to use last names. It was no stretch to assume that he simply didn’t like them. Which was not a surprise, as far as Chris knew his parents didn’t have any friends.
He turned to Chris and gave him a disapproving look. “You must be Jonathan Morgenstern, you are the spitting image of your father.”
It was clearly neither intended to be a compliment nor would he ever see it as one. He hated looking the way he did, it made him even more of a target than his name.
“Christopher,” he corrected the man, who he assumed was the dean or at least a teacher. But he didn’t even bother with his last name. There was no point in trying to get someone like this to call him Wayland. “I go by my middle name.”
“Oh?” the man said, his voice dripping with as much disdain as he could allow himself without it being too obvious. Chris was actually impressed one could achieve such a thing. “Do you not like sharing a name with the first Shadowhunter to ever be created?”
“Of course he does!” Clary cried out, affronted by that accusation. “But our other brother is called Jonathan too.”
“I’m Jonathan Wayland,” aforementioned brother said helpfully.
It didn’t seem to matter to him. “And you must be Clarissa Wayland. Speaking for your brother, how odd. I’m Jonathan Thrushcross, the dean of the Shadowhunter Academy. May you learn to be a proper Shadowhunter here.”
His name was Jonathan, how wonderful. Chris had already insulted the dean’s name and he hadn’t even entered the Academy. What was next? He decided it would be better to keep his mouth shut for a while.
“If you go inside, teachers will show you to your rooms.”
This meant it was time to say goodbye. Jocelyn opened her arms and like little children, they threw themselves in her arms while Michael wrapped his around all four of them.
“We’ll miss you so much. Please be careful, I know how harsh Shadowhunters can be. And don’t join any strange groups. And don’t forget us. And—”
“Mum,” Clary interrupted Jocelyn’s panicked lecture. “We’re not stupid. Stop being so overprotective. And we’re still in Idris. We’re literally just a carriage or horse ride away.”
“I know but I’ll miss you anyway. My babies.”
The siblings rolled their eyes, but they squeezed their mother a little tighter anyway.
“I may not be as dramatic as your mother, but I’ll miss you too. I’m glad you’re here together so you can have each other’s backs. The Academy can be a harsh place,” Michael said.
Eventually even Jocelyn was able to let go of the hug. Without his parents wrapped around him anymore, Chris felt the cold autumn air on his skin. He shivered. Luckily, Jocelyn didn’t notice, or she would’ve stayed for another hour.
Both parents planted kisses on their children’s foreheads and then they walked towards the carriage. As they were driving away, they were waving them goodbye until they were out of sight, leaving him and his siblings alone. He felt a cold hand grab his and he squeezed it tightly. Clary. His anchor in every sense of the word, his parabatai. He would make sure this place wasn’t going to be as dreadful as it felt. For her and for Jon and for himself.
Chapter 2: One of the Dregs
A small and uncommunicative teacher named Katashi Shimizu had led Chris to his room and left the second his hand had touched the door handle. He wasn’t surprised by that, Shadowhunters weren’t exactly known for their hospitality, but he was sure it had something to do with his last name. The last name he didn’t even use but everyone else forced onto him.
As he opened the door, he noticed how tiny the room was, especially considering he’d have to share it with a complete stranger. Shimizu had led him through windowless corridors only lit by witchlight, which was odd considering the Academy had many windows. But then, they had walked downstairs, not upstairs. And like the corridors, there was no window in this room either. He realised that could only mean one thing: his room was in the basement. Which was just terrific because who wouldn’t like to sleep in a small cave with no natural light source whatsoever for two years?
He let his suitcase fall on the floor and willed himself to step out of the doorway. The modest interior consisted of two narrow beds with carved wooden bedposts, a large wardrobe, and two small desks with stools neatly standing next to each other.
“Welcome,” an unfamiliar voice with an even more unfamiliar accent said and behind one of the beds appeared a guy with dishevelled hair. “I’m George Lovelace.”
He walked over to Chris, extended a hand and regarded him with a warm smile. Finally, someone who didn’t look incredibly bothered by his presence. Likely because he didn’t know who he was.
“Hello, I’m Chris. Chris Wayland,” he answered.
“Wait, what are you doing here?” He looked at Chris’s arm in confusion. “Those marks make you a Shadowhunter, don’t they?”
“What do you mean? This is the Shadowhunter Academy, most people here are Shadowhunters as far as I know. You, for example.”
George shook his head. “We’re in the basement. It’s where they put the mundanes. I’m surprised you didn’t know, your people seem to love separating the ‘dregs’ from the ‘elite’.”
He actually had known that, but he’d thought that perhaps things had changed and now Shadowhunters were put in the basement too. After all, he wasn’t a mundane. There was no reason to put him here. Unless … He felt the familiar anger burn inside of him, but he managed to hold it in. For now.
“You’re a mundane? But you’re a Lovelace.” He had noticed that there were no runes on his arms, but he’d assumed there was another reason for that. Maybe his parents had quit Shadowhunting and he’d only now decided to return. He hadn’t expected to share a room with a mundane of all people. Sharing a corridor with them, alright, but a room?
“I was adopted. My parents come from a family who’s given up Shadowhunting centuries ago. Lovelaces are quitters.” He said it cheerfully, as if being a quitter wasn’t something to be deeply ashamed of. “The Shadowhunters thought I was one of them at first because adopting a mundane is not a concept they understand but I was foolish enough to mention I wasn’t and they moved me to the basement immediately.”
Chris sighed in disbelief. “They really put me in the basement and gave me a mundane roommate. I knew they’d treat me differently but that I didn’t expect.”
He’d heard of cases where a Shadowhunter would become one of the dregs and now he was supposed to be one of those? The anger bubbled up again, this time stronger. He wanted to punch something, and it took all of his willpower not to do it. It took him a while until he’d calmed down enough to focus again, at which point he noticed that George was looking at him with great interest.
“I’m Valentine’s son,” Chris answered the unasked question, still gritting his teeth in anger.
“I assume that’s a bad thing? You made it sound like a bad thing.” He truly was a clueless mundane.
“Yes, it is. Not that I can help it. I hope you don’t mind sharing your room with what’s probably going to be the most unpopular guy at the Academy.”
His face darkened and he couldn’t help but let out a deep sigh. This was possibly the worst day he’d ever had, which didn't bode well for the next few days. Or years.
“I couldn’t care less. As long as you don’t mind having a mundane as a roommate. I’d like to make our time together as pleasant as possible. According to my childhood friends I don’t snore, so unless that’s changed, you should be able to sleep at night.”
Chris wasn’t sure of that, there was still his recurring nightmare to worry about. But he lightened up a little anyway, his roommate seemed nice. Even though he was a mundane. To his relief the anger returned to its slumber as quickly as it had awoken. If this place kept throwing things at him, he’d need a lot of nice people around to control it. Or else, may the Angel have mercy on them all.
“I’ll manage. I hope I don’t snore either. Now, would you mind explaining what you were doing behind the bed when I came in?”
“Oh that, I dropped one of my skat cards under it but there was too much dust for my taste. I think the card is lost forever now. It seems that whoever cleaned this room didn’t bother to sweep under the beds as well. Not complaining, the rest is clean at least. But seriously, don’t look under your bed.”
Chris wrinkled his nose. But knowing everything else was clean, he finally decided to remove his beloved sword from his back and put it on the bed George hadn’t crawled under.
“Wow!” George exclaimed and came closer to take a look at it. “Is that yours?”
Chris nodded, confused by the overexcitement. Many Shadowhunter were carrying swords, but it seemed not many mundanes did. Not even if they were coming from a family of former Shadowhunters apparently.
“It’s a family heirloom. My mother gave it to me when I started my training. It’s one of a pair, my sister owns the other. Mine is called Phaesphoros—light-bringer—hers is Heosphoros—dawn-bringer.”
He only now realised the true reason their mother had given Heosphoros to Clary: it had not been because they’d expressed an interest in being parabatai even before they started training but because she was a Morgenstern too. He worried people might notice it but then, he himself had only made this connection now that he knew Clary was a Morgenstern. He was just being paranoid as usual.
That made Chris snap out of his thoughts. It truly was. A broadsword so massive that the day he first got it, he’d been unable to hold it up for long. It was made of gold and adamas and dipped in dark silver, making it appear almost black at times. A design of stars decorated the ridge of the blade—the Morgenstern family symbol. It had belonged to his father, which had made him uneasy more than a few times. But Jocelyn had told him that the swords had been forged by Wayland the Smith for two Morgensterns a very long time ago. It was like Phaesphoros united his family by blood with his family of choice.
George eventually managed to avert his gaze from the sword. “I think we are supposed to go to the dining hall. I already arrived yesterday and after getting lost many times, I think I finally know the way.”
Chris was relieved to hear that because he wouldn’t even find his way back to the entrance hall.
“In that case, after you.” He gestured for George to lead the way and followed him out of their room.
He still couldn’t believe he was going to share his room with a mundane. A seemingly nice mundane but a mundane nonetheless. It was degrading, though he decided not to mention that in front of George.
Once they’d arrived at the dining hall, Chris immediately scanned the crowd for his siblings. It was filled with people from all over the world gathered around several round tables. He had more faith in spotting Clary. Even though she was tiny her red hair glowed like a torch. Jon was taller, but the room was packed with people who also had dark curly hair and were about his height. He looked like any Shadowhunter his age. Sometimes Chris envied him because of it.
The dining hall was a square stone room with a massive carved mantelpiece at its end. It was displaying crossed swords and what Chris assumed was the Shadowhunter motto Facilis descensus Averno. The descent into Hell is easy. He’d always found that motto to be incredibly accurate.
Someone tipped him on the shoulder and when he turned around, he saw it was Clary, who had just entered the room with another girl by her side.
“Chris, this is Aline Penhallow, my roommate.”
The girl extended her hand and shook Chris’s firmly.
“I’m George Lovelace,” George introduced himself. “I’m Chris’s roommate. You must be his sister?”
“Sister and parabatai,” Clary corrected him and smiled.
George gave Chris a confused look. He was about to explain it when Clary gestured toward a table where a bunch of Shadowhunters were sitting.
“Look, it’s Jon! Let’s go there.”
How had she spotted him this fast? Before anybody could say anything else, she took off and the rest of them could only follow.
“There you are!” Jon smiled at them once they’d arrived at the table. Then he pointed at the black-haired guy next to him. “This is my roommate, Sebastian Verlac.”
Aline shook her head with a laugh. “If it isn’t my elusive cousin. I don’t even recognise you, it’s been such a long time!”
“I fear you’re right, I hardly recognise you either. Aline Penhallow, I hope?” He spoke with what Chris assumed was a French accent.
“Correct guess, lucky for you.” He raised his eyebrow but grinned.
“Are you just going to ignore me, old friend?” Someone with an American accent interrupted what seemed to be a family reunion. It belonged to a dark-haired girl that was also sitting at the table and impatiently tapped her fingers on its surface.
“The one and only Isabelle Lightwood!” Aline exclaimed happily and hugged her, then turned to the guy sitting next to her, who was clearly Isabelle’s brother. “And Alec of course!”
After she was done hugging Aline, Isabelle introduced the last person at the table as her friend Abby Safar. “She also lives in New York and she’s—”
“Attention!” The dean’s voice echoed through the room and everyone in the hall fell silent. Chris noticed that one of the people sitting at the table with the dean had green skin. Hadn’t his parents mentioned a green-skinned warlock teaching at the Academy during their time? He couldn’t imagine any Downworlder would like to return to Idris after the Uprising but maybe he liked to torture himself.
“Welcome to the Shadowhunter Academy. I suppose you all know me by now, but to formerly introduce myself: I am Jonathan Thrushcross, the dean. Many Shadowhunters have worked tirelessly to clean, refurnish and restore the Academy to its former glory and I think we can all be very pleased with the outcome. If there are any questions you can come to me after dinner or to my office on any other day. Remember that it is an honour to train here, especially for the mundanes among you.” As he sat down, he looked relieved.
An honour, sure. It was not like Chris and several others were forced to be here.
Clary pulled Chris with her to the buffet. The rush really wasn’t necessary because there was enough food for everyone, but he chose not to say anything. If Clary had a mission, one couldn’t stop her. Even if that mission was only to get herself some food.
“So where’s your room, Chris?” she asked as they made their way back to their table.
“They put me in the basement with the mundanes,” he said angrily and sat his plate down. “Just because I’m Valentine’s son, can you believe that?”
“I’m going to kick someone’s ass,” Clary said, her brows furrowed in anger.
“You’re Valentine’s son?” Alec asked.
Chris sighed and felt the desire to drop his head into the soup before him.
“People can’t help who their parents are, Alec,” Isabelle said.
Alec lifted his hands up in defence. “I know, I know, I was just surprised.”
“Wait, if you’re in the basement because you’re Valentine’s son, why did they put you there?” Abby asked, looking at George.
Chris had completely forgotten that he was sharing the table with a mundane. And that nobody but him knew.
George shifted uncomfortably but Chris gave him an encouraging smile. Being a mundane was definitely not worse than being Valentine’s son and everyone seemed to be taking that very well.
“The truth is,” he finally said. “I’m a mundane.”
Everyone looked puzzled.
“You’re funny. You’re a Lovelace, not a mundane.” Clary said.
“I was adopted. I’m no Lovelace by blood. Do I have to sit with the other mundanes now?” he asked and pointed at a table where a bunch of kids without runes sat in an awkward silence. They hadn’t even gotten up to get themselves food.
“No, you stay. You’re cool for a mundane,” Chris assured him. Nobody argued with that.
George did stay but something seemed off about him after that. Chris wondered if he’d said something wrong.
Chapter 3: The Eyes and Ears of the Inquisitor
As expected after he’d been put into a room with a mundane, they put Chris in the mundane stream as well. It was humiliating. Even the mundanes stared at him, wondering why a Shadowhunter was among them. If they hadn’t already heard rumours, that is, after all there was not much else to do than gossip. One evening at the Academy could be enough that almost everyone knew who he was.
He was sitting in a history lecture held by a warlock named Theresa Gray. While she was a good teacher and the way she talked was engaging, she wasn’t teaching him anything he didn’t already know. It was the origin story of the Shadowhunters, everyone knew it. Every Shadowhunter at least, he could tell by looking at his classmates that they had no clue and were eager to learn everything about who they were going to be.
“Hey, Morgenstern!” Someone whispered from behind.
Chris glared at the guy. “Wayland, it’s Wayland,” he hissed and turned around again, not willing to engage any further.
“Oh, sorry, everyone says your name is Morgenstern.” He, like all mundanes, had an accent. Chris assumed it was a British one.
“Whatever leave me alone.”
Chris hated the Academy, and this was only his first lecture. He envied Clary and Jon who were in the elite stream. He should be there too but of course the dean didn’t see it that way.
“I have a question.” The guy didn’t give up easily and Chris felt the urge to strangle him. “I know a lot about my family’s history. You know, my ancestors used to serve at the London Institute and—”
“That is wonderful, you can be proud of that. Now leave me alone, I’m not interested in your mundane ancestors, whether they served at an institute or not.”
“Let me finish,” he hissed but before he could, he was interrupted by Mrs. Gray.
“Christopher, Noah, I would very much appreciate if you’d listen in class.”
Chris was surprised she already knew their names. But then, she was a warlock, maybe she had a magical way of making it easier.
“My apologies but I already know everything. Besides he started talking to me, I told him to shut up and he wouldn’t,” Chris defended himself.
“Everyone who has ties to Shadowhunters knows their origin story,” the guy—Noah apparently—agreed. “No offence, Miss.”
She looked at them angrily. “Do you think I care who distracted whom? Since you’re experts on the topic, I expect you to hand me an essay on the Shadowhunter’s origin story by tomorrow in your own words. Also, it’s Mrs. Gray. Don’t interrupt my lecture again, if you are bored, just zone out but don’t distract your fellow students who would like to learn.”
“Haha!” A mundane exclaimed, and everyone snickered. Chris made sure Noah saw that he was very willing to kill him. Noah mouthed “I’m sorry” but Chris turned around and continued to wallow in his anger. At this point, it seemed like he would slip into a state of constant rage, he really needed to talk to Clary and have her calm him down.
Noah didn’t attempt to talk to him for the rest of the lecture but once it was over, he came over to his desk. Someone couldn’t take a hint, at this point it would hopefully count as self-defence if Chris decided to hurt him.
“I’m Noah Tanner. Didn’t have a chance to introduce myself before.”
Chris crossed his arms over his chest. “And I’m Chris Wayland, not Morgenstern. What do you want from me? You destroyed all my plans for today, because I have to write an essay. Thank you very much.”
That was a lie, he didn’t have any plans at all. It seemed impossible to do anything fun at the Academy. Typical Shadowhunters hadn’t thought about the fact that a bunch of young people getting bored could lead to them getting creative and destroying something.
“Look, I’m really sorry. I didn’t know Mrs. Gray would be so strict, she seems so young. I can’t believe she’s already married.” He was shaking his head in disbelief.
“She’s a warlock, she might as well be hundreds of years old, I thought you already know everything?” Chris taunted him.
Noah only shrugged, unfazed. “Please give me a chance, I just wanted to ask you if it could be possible that my ancestors used to serve yours. Everyone talks about you and they say your mother was a Fairchild and so was one of the institute heads back in the 19th century. She was the Consul once, does that ring any bells?”
It seemed they were already debating his entire family tree with the mundanes, fantastic. Shadowhunters turning to mundanes for gossip must mean they were very bored. He could only imagine what they’d do after a few months at the Academy. He could only hope the dean would notice in time and provide some entertainment.
Despite him being annoying, Chris decided to answer. Better than someone spreading lies about him, which he knew would inevitably be the case. “Charlotte Fairchild? The first female Consul? Yes, that was one of my ancestors. Though I still don’t understand why you’d care.”
“She was a great person, according to my family. If servants say such things and it sticks for generations, it must be true.”
Chris still didn’t understand what on earth he was on about, when Mrs. Gray appeared next to them, apparently having listened to their conversation. “She was a wonderful person indeed.”
Chris shot her a confused look. “You knew a Consul and thought she was great?” She must be messing with us, he thought. He couldn’t imagine a warlock saying anything positive about a Shadowhunter, even a warlock teaching at the Academy.
Mrs. Gray chuckled. “I didn’t just know her, I was her friend. Believe it or not, there have always been Shadowhunters who weren’t dismissive towards my kind. And I knew the servants Thomas and Cyril Tanner too, though I did not have a chance to know Thomas for long. He was killed defending our institute.”
“Our institute? No offence but I can’t see anyone letting a warlock run an institute.”
She smiled sadly. “Oh, of course they wouldn’t. But I have more ties to Shadowhunters than you would understand. Not that it’s any of your business. I’m still expecting that essay by the way.”
With that she left both Noah and Chris gaping after her.
“But,” Noah said, struggling to regain his senses, “how can she look like this and have known my ancestors? She’s older than my grandma. I feel weird now, thinking of her as attractive when she’s so very old.”
Chris couldn’t help but grin and patted his arm. “Don’t let her break your mind.” Then he sighed and decided to do something stupid. “Would you like to sit with me and my friends at lunch?”
It was then that George appeared next to them. “Can I interrupt this? I’m hungry and I was waiting for you in case you were starting to beat each other up but now it seems like you’re making a new friend.”
“It seems so, doesn’t it?” Chris couldn’t believe it himself. “Let’s go then, I’m hungry too.”
When he introduced Noah at lunch, everyone was somewhat accepting of him. Though Aline did ask whether Chris was intending to turn their table into a mundane table, but it seemed all in good fun.
As he looked around, he noticed a guy with curly blond hair sitting at one of the mundane tables with one of his classmates he recognised from the lecture earlier. Chris narrowed his eyes. He was bearing Marks.
Aline followed his gaze. “The Inquisitor’s grandson, Jace Herondale,” she said. “I think everybody is afraid of him. I can’t believe he’s sitting with a mundane, must be really desperate for company.”
We are sitting with mundanes too, Chris thought but didn’t say anything.
“Ironic that they forced him to be here as well. The Inquisitor hates those in the Circle more than anyone else and she’s the one that raised him. How could he have possibly any ties to it? I wish I’d seen her face when she found out,” Abby said with a smirk.
“I think it may work in her favour. He can come running to her and report every suspicious thing any of us does. He’s the eyes and ears of the Inquisitor.” Clary sounded bitter, and Chris knew she was worried about him.
Aline shrugged. “Maybe but I still don’t think she’s happy about it. I live in Alicante and I’ve never seen him there. Everyone says she doesn’t allow him to leave the house. She’s supposed to be the strictest Shadowhunter alive. He probably doesn’t even know what a girl is. Will that poor mundane be his first girlfriend? Place your bets.”
“Can someone explain this to me? I know what the Inquisitor is but why is he here when she’s against the Circle?” Noah asked, apparently finally not knowing something. Chris noticed that George seemed relieved someone else was asking something he didn’t understand either. He felt a rush of sympathy for them, having not realised before how strange it must be to live among people you don’t understand.
Clary sighed, exasperated by mundane curiosity and cluelessness. “The Inquisitor is his grandmother, she’s too biased to decide anything when it comes to him and since his parents were in the Circle, he has to come here like the rest of us. His father was killed during a raid on a vampire nest but many people, especially the Inquisitor, suspect that Valentine set this up because his father was starting to doubt his cause. That’s why she hates the Circle so much.”
“That’s what you get for being a member of the Circle,” Abby said and with a look at some of her friends added, “No offence.”
“None taken, my parents deserve their punishment,” Isabelle declared to everyone’s surprise.
“How can you say that?” Clary asked. “They’re your parents!"
“They didn’t tell us anything, Clary. Nothing. Alec and I only found out they were in the Circle because of the letter that ordered us to come to the Academy. They had to explain then. I wonder if they’ll at least tell our little brother sooner. We had no idea what the Circle or who Valentine even was. And I’m sure my parents weren’t the only ones who chose not to talk about it as if that would make the past go away. I hate having to go to the Academy and missing out on all the parties back home, but I think it was a good ruling or else I would still be clueless about an important detail of my family’s past.”
Alec, though hesitant at first, nodded in agreement.
Chris had never thought about it that way. His parents had kept secrets too, but they’d been open about what the Circle was and that it was a bad thing ever since he’d started his training. Even before that, they had told him some things because people were talking about him being Valentine’s son and he had to learn what that meant. If sending the children of former Circle members to the Academy had seemed extreme and strange to him before, it made a little more sense now.
Later, Chris had his first training session. The basic mundane training was incredibly boring. No matter who he was paired with, he beat them without even trying. They didn’t stand a chance and he hadn’t even applied any runes.
Eventually, he was paired with the girl who’d spent lunch with Jace Herondale, which made his mood drop even further.
“Please don’t hurt me,” she said in a small voice. He noticed her accent was even more different than those he’d heard before. As if English wasn’t her first language.
“Look, I don’t know what Herondale told you about me but I’m not some monster that hurts stupid mundanes, alright? I’m a normal person, just like you.”
“Not like me, I’m just a stupid mundane and you’re a Shadowhunter, you said so yourself,” she said.
He rolled his eyes. “You know what I mean.”
Then he noticed she was moving and caught her staff before it could even come close to striking him. Sneaky girl, she had tried to distract him.
“Well played. But you’re just a mundane, you’ve got no chance.”
She shrugged. “This works in my video games. Sometimes. I’m Leah by the way.”
He had no idea what a video game was, but he didn’t really care. “Chris,” he said. He was sure she knew that already. “Where are you from?” He didn’t really care about that either but maybe engaging her in a conversation would tell him something about what Jace was up to.
That explained the accent. Before he could ask any more questions, Shimizu came up to them, hands on his hips. He was smaller than Chris, about Leah’s height, but there was an air of authority around him that made him seem much bigger.
“You are supposed to engage in combat. Talking is for breaks. Teach this mundane some moves, I’m sure you know what you’re doing. You could use that instead of distracting her.”
“Yes, Sir,” Chris answered and realised that was not actually a bad idea. Why not teach some mundanes himself? It couldn’t be more boring than knocking them over one by one. “Ready to learn?” he asked.
Leah hesitated but Chris decided to ignore it. After all, that was what the training master had ordered him to do, whether she liked it or not.
Ten minutes later, Leah had collapsed onto the floor. “Scheiße!” she cried.
“You are not very persistent,” he noted, looking down at her. She looked so fragile.
“I’m a … nerd. I … don’t leave … the house often,” she said, panting. “I … play being … a warrior … online. I don’t do … sports. I’m weak and … untrained. What did you … expect?”
Most of what she said didn’t make sense to Chris, but he could easily tell that she was untrained. A Shadowhunter her age would in some cases have slain their first demon already. Not that Chris had, but that was only because there had never been an opportunity to do it. If you were living in Idris your whole life, you were far away from demonic activity.
“You are aware that you will have to train a lot if you want to survive Ascension though, right?”
She winced. “Obviously, a master has not yet fallen from the sky.”
She dismissed him with a wave of her hand. Mundanes were confusing.
He shook his head. “Why are you even here?”
She shrugged. “It’s not like I had anywhere else to go, I have no family. When the Recruiter came, I felt like becoming a warrior would be cool. I didn’t really think about having to train and the potential of dying.”
Chris was fascinated, he’d never heard of Shadowhunters recruiting random mundanes to join them. Their numbers must be smaller than he thought. Perhaps there was more to them reopening the Academy than preventing another Uprising.
“Morgenstern. Mundane. What did I tell you about talking?”
“It’s for breaks,” Chris answered. “Which is what we are having right now.”
“And who allowed you to take a break?” Shimizu asked, arms across his chest and his eyebrow raised.
“Leah needed one, Sir. Mundanes aren’t as fit as we are.”
“Do you see any of the others taking a break?”
Chris knew Shimizu didn’t like him, and he wasn’t the only one. But that didn’t mean he should give him yet another reason, so he swallowed his pride. “No, Sir.”
“So what I see is you being lazy. And laziness will not be tolerated. You are a Shadowhunter and you,” he pointed at Leah, “are training to become one. Now, Morgenstern, you and I will demonstrate how Shadowhunters fight for these mundanes. Perhaps that will be more interesting for you.”
Chris swallowed hard but nodded.
They stood in front of each other, both holding a wooden staff. Shimizu attacked viciously and without warning, Chris had trouble defending the attacks at first. But he became filled with anger over his humiliation and it was his anger. It did wonders, he noticed. He started to feel stronger and more energetic. All of a sudden, he could duck out of Shimizu’s way with ease. There was something else too. The desire to attack and draw blood. And in that moment, he didn’t push it away, he liked the feeling. He felt like he could take on anyone. He wouldn’t have minded ripping someone apart in that very moment.
He barely noticed how he gained the upper hand and managed to disarm Shimizu. He heard him call their demonstration off, but Chris couldn’t stop now. He pushed Shimizu on the floor and raised his staff, ready to bash in his skull to watch his brain leak out of it when he noticed genuine fear in Shimizu’s eyes. That made him regain his senses in an instance and he got up, stepping away from him. What had just happened?
“I should send you to the dean for this, Morgenstern. You’re disobeying your training master how could we trust you in battle if you can’t even listen during practise? Work on that, Valentine’s son.”
His voice dripped with disdain, but Chris could tell it was shaking slightly. He knew the real reason he wasn’t sent to the dean was that it would’ve been embarrassing for a training master to admit a student beat him.
Chris looked around and saw the widened eyes of the mundanes. Some seemed impressed, others terrified.
“Chris, what on earth was that?” George asked.
Noah put his arm around his shoulder. “Yeah, what’s wrong with you, dude?”
Chris shrugged it off. “He was annoying me, that’s all. I tried to be considerate of a mundane and he is acting like I’m a lazy bastard. I’m not lazy.”
It was a flimsy lie. He searched for Leah in the crowd and when their eyes met, she quickly turned away as if his mere gaze could hurt her. He was certain she was going to tell Jace about this and he would end up reporting it to the Inquisitor. Chris closed his eyes. This wasn’t good. This wasn’t good at all.
Chapter 4: Corrupted by Demons
The room was dimly lit and empty, its walls barren. Clary was standing in its centre, her arms stretched before her in an appeasing stance as if he was a wild animal and she was trying to tame him. Chris’s hand tightened around Phaesphoros and her eyes widened.
“Chris, please, it’s me. Your parabatai. I know you won’t hurt me. I know you.” But her shaking voice betrayed her.
A devilish smile spread across his face. “It will be so much fun to cut you open and watch you bleed out. Maybe I’ll drink your blood, I bet it tastes sweet. Such a perfect child, always the perfect daughter. How convenient for you that nobody knows you are Valentine’s child as well. Why do I have to be the only monster in the family? It’s not fair!”
Rage clouded his thinking and he came closer while she backed away. But the room was tiny, and she soon reached the wall. There was no way out for her.
“Please, I love you. You would never hurt me.” Now it sounded like she was telling herself something she knew wasn’t the truth. “I’ll tell everyone who I really am. We will both be treated the same. Just don’t kill me, please.”
Her begging was pathetic. He’d thought she was stronger, and knowing she wasn’t disgusted him. Another weakling in his family, like his mother and his father. His real father, Valentine. How easily he let himself be killed. He raised the sword and brought it down on Clary while she screamed. It struck her in the stomach and he drew it upwards, cutting her open as if she wasn’t his sister but a demon he had sworn to protect the world from. She gagged and as she sank down and her blood painted the floor red, a blissful silence began to fill the room. At least for a moment.
What had he done?
“What have I done?” he screamed. And he screamed and screamed and screamed …
“Chris, wake up!”
He opened his eyes and saw George kneeling over him. “Shhh, everything’s alright, you’re safe.”
“Clary,” Chris croaked.
“You had a bad dream, that’s all,” George assured him.
Except it wasn’t. He’d been having a variation of this very dream for years now. Always Clary, always him murdering her. Only the scenery and the murder weapon changed. For some reason he lusted after Clary’s blood and he could only assume it had to do with Valentine. He shuddered. He could never kill Clary, never. But in his dreams, it was so easy. It felt good. Just nightmares, he thought. But he knew there was more to it than that.
Chris was still shaken by his nightmare when he ran into Jon and Sebastian in the corridor. They sprang apart as he approached them. He was too tired to think much of it.
“Are you okay, you little shit? You look like you haven’t slept all night,” Jon asked him, his teasing not quite covering up the worried look in his face.
Chris dismissed him with a flick of his hand. “Little shit? I’m three months older than you, Jonny.”
Jon pressed his lips together and glared at him. “Don’t call me that. Especially not in front of—,” he interrupted himself and glanced in Sebastian’s direction, who was trying to suppress a grin. Jon blushed. He’d always been one to blush very easily. The situation was strange, something was going on. “Especially not in public, I mean. It’s embarrassing,” Jon finally corrected himself, beet red.
“Of course not, Jonathan,” Chris said, his voice loud and clear. Then he grinned at Sebastian, who couldn’t help but burst into laughter. He already felt a little better.
“I hate you,” Jon murmured.
On their way to the dining hall, Sebastian told them about his life in Paris.
“I must admit, I grew bored of it. I was always on my own, most Downworlders never fully trusted me and the mundanes I couldn’t be honest with. I’m glad I finally met some Shadowhunters my age who seem like great amis but I didn’t realise how uneventful Idris and the Academy would be. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do. And everyone is so stuck-up and arrogant, I wouldn’t even dare suggest sneaking out at night. I feel like most of you would run to the dean immediately and have me punished for even mentioning it.”
“Isn’t that exactly what you’re doing right now?” Chris asked.
“Is it? Well, I figured some people would be up for it, if you catch my drift. Hypothetically, of course.”
To Chris’s surprise, it was Jon who replied, “Hypothetically,” and grinned at Sebastian.
Breaking the rules wasn’t something that was like him, but he seemed to enjoy the idea of it now. Chris narrowed his eyes trying to catch Jon’s eye. When he finally did, Jon just smiled sheepishly and lifted his shoulders. Chris could only shake his head, what was going on with his brother? If Clary behaved strangely too at breakfast, he’d have proof that the Academy was messing with them.
Clary was the same as on any other day. And too perceptive, as always. She took Chris by the arm after breakfast and narrowed her eyes at him once they were alone.
“You seem worried. What’s wrong?”
Chris sighed. His nightmares and anger and all the darkness inside of him were his biggest secret and the only one he kept from her. He hadn’t even meant to hide it, it had just felt right, and the situation had never been this bad. Now it seemed impossible to continue keeping it a secret.
“Something is wrong with me, Clare.”
“What do you mean?”
He closed his eyes and let out another sigh, this was his moment of truth. “There’s something dark inside of me, always has been. It was never this bad, I keep dreaming something terrible will happen. Something I don’t want to happen. But in the dreams, I’m not myself. And it’s not just dreams, I’m so angry all the time.”
“Angry?” she asked, tilting her head to the side.
“Shimizu and I were giving a demonstration to the class after he called me lazy. I was angry. He has much more experience in combat than me, but I defeated him anyway. But I didn’t want to stop there, I wanted to hurt him, Clary. Only when I looked into his eyes and saw that he was genuinely scared of me did I realise what I was doing and snapped out of it.”
They both spun around to see Mrs. Gray standing in the corridor, a book in her hand and a thoughtful expression on her face. How much had she heard? Certainly too much, that was clear. This day couldn’t get any worse, could it?
She turned around. “Follow me. Both of you.”
They exchanged a look, realising she wasn’t giving them a choice and hurried after her.
“It was foolish of you to talk about this in public with all these Shadowhunters around. You are lucky it was me who heard it.” Mrs. Gray shook her head and put the book down on the nightstand.
She had brought them to what seemed to be her room. It was much bigger than Chris’s and even had a bookshelf, a cosy seating area and a small kitchen nook, which she approached to make tea.
“Lucky?” Clary asked.
Mrs. Gray smiled at her with a patience only warlocks seemed to possess. “I did tell your brother it was none of his business and it isn’t, but I will tell you anyway: I’m not just a warlock but a unique one at that. Something thought to be impossible. My father is a demon and my mother was a Shadowhunter.”
They gasped, expecting everything but that. Chris had a million questions but Mrs. Gray didn’t give him a chance to ask. “Do you think I’m going to judge a Shadowhunter that thinks something is wrong with him? Especially not one that is clearly being treated unfairly simply because of who his father was?”
Chris was surprised by this, he figured Downworlders would hate him based on who he was and there was this woman who didn’t really know him and who’d just heard him talk about a darkness within him and she still chose to be kind. She didn’t seem much like a demon child at all, more like an angel in the flesh.
“So, Christopher, you need help, do you not?”
“I suppose?” He was still not sure if he could trust someone who seemed so unwaveringly kind. Where was the catch?
Mrs. Gray gestured at the couches by the window. “Have a seat. Do you want some tea? Scones?”
Chris had no idea what scones were, but he was too shell-shocked by what she’d told him to ask. So instead he nodded, sat down and Clary followed suit. The kettle started boiling and they watched in silence as Mrs. Gray prepared the tea. Chris noticed that this whole time, she hadn’t used magic to help her with any of it. He wondered if it was a choice or if being only half a warlock made her an ifrit.
When she was done, she brought tea and some baked goods—those scones, he assumed. And as they were nibbling on them, she asked Chris to explain what he’d meant back in the corridor, a question he’d been dreading.
“First, I want to tell you something too,” Clary said and set her tea cup down. “I’ve been having strange dreams too.”
“Dreams?” Mrs. Gray asked. She’d only heard the second part of their conversation, it seemed. Chris, however, was alarmed, he didn’t want her to know things about his sister that could harm her, and he started to wonder how to keep most of the truth from Mrs. Gray.
But Clary had apparently decided to trust her. “It has nothing to do with darkness in my case, but I sometimes dream things and they come true. And I see runes that don’t exist. It’s rare and I never dared to use any of them. I thought I was losing my mind but perhaps there is something in our blood that makes us have these dreams. Maybe it has something to do with Valentine.”
Mrs. Gray shot her a confused look. “Valentine? But you aren’t even related to him.”
Clary opened her mouth and closed it again, looking at Chris apologetically. “Let us tell her the whole truth while we’re at it. It’s too late now anyway,” she said.
Chris pressed his lips together and sighed but agreed, there was not much else to do now anyway, and Clary explained to Mrs. Gray that she was Valentine’s daughter too.
“That seems reasonable. Unless you give me a reason to mistrust you, your secret is safe with me,” Mrs. Gray promised and Chris could breathe a little easier. He couldn’t bear the thought of his sister being treated the way he was. He could only hope Mrs. Gray was being sincere.
“This does make it seem like it’s linked to Valentine,” Mrs. Gray said. “But if one of you has nightmares and anger issues and the other has visions and sees runes, I’m not sure what it could be. Christopher, I must say, I’m worried your problem might be of demonic origin. I have noticed your eyes don’t look entirely human, I have never seen human eyes as black as yours. But in your case, Clarissa, things seem different. I must say, not having unusual eyes doesn’t have to mean anything, a Shadowhunter with demon blood I knew had human eyes. But I’m still not convinced it’s the same demonic thing that’s taken hold of you. Perhaps you’re affected by different demons? Or maybe not, there are demonic runes too, after all, so it’s good you never used them, Clarissa. Not until you know what they are.”
Chris swallowed hard. He was supposed to be tainted by demons? And perhaps Clary too?
“Demonic? But aren’t we protected from that after birth?” he asked, his voice a little higher than usual.
“Yes. That’s what I find strange too. There is someone who has known you all your lives, who might be able to tell us if perhaps something went wrong during the protection ritual and that’s your mother. Which is why we’ll go there immediately.”
“Wait,” Clary said. “Now? We have classes soon and Wayland manor is hours away!”
“I will excuse you for the first few classes. We’ll not be gone the whole day if we travel via Portal.”
She didn’t wait for a response and instead started to open a Portal in the middle of her room. At least this proved she was capable of magic after all and she truly just enjoyed making tea manually. Warlocks were strange, he would never do those things if he could just magically make them happen. But maybe having all the time in the world made you appreciate the little things.
“I have no idea what Wayland manor looks like,” Mrs. Gray said as she finished creating the Portal. “One of you needs to go first.”
Chris nodded and started to think of home. The old manor, the smell of the flowers Michael grew in front of the house, the neighing of their horses …
He stepped forward and after a moment, there it was. Just like he’d left it only three days ago. Once Clary and Mrs. Gray had appeared, they walked up to the door. Chris hesitated to knock. How were they supposed to explain this to their mother? But Clary was too impatient and excited to think about it and knocked instead.
There were footsteps and a puzzled Jocelyn appeared in the doorframe.
“Surprise!” Clary called and threw herself in her arms.
“Um, hello,” Chris said and awkwardly hugged his mother.
Jocelyn needed a minute to gather herself but then squeezed them tightly. “What are you doing here?”
“We’ll explain later,” Clary said, and they introduced Mrs. Gray and settled in the living room. Jocelyn informed them that Michael and Robert were in Alicante and would only return in a few hours. Chris felt guilty for being relieved.
Mrs. Gray didn’t waste much time and got to the point of their unannounced visit. “Now, Mrs. Wayland, your children have a certain problem and we hope you might be able to shed light on. Christopher, Clarissa, would you please tell your mother what you told me?”
And so they did. Jocelyn’s eyes widened several times and Chris noticed a deep sadness in them. He’d seen glimpses of it before and realised it had always been there. Was his mother this sad and he had never truly noticed it?
“Children, I’m so sorry. I thought I’d never have to tell you. I wanted you to grow up normal without Valentine’s shadow hovering over you but alas he doesn’t give up easily, not even in death. The truth is that Valentine experimented. He never told me, but I discovered horrible things in the basement beneath our house. He experimented on Downworlders and demons and on other people. In his notes I found out he’d given me demon blood while I was pregnant with you, Chris. It made me very sick and when you were born, and I saw your eyes, I knew something wasn’t right. You never cried either, you were eerily quiet. When I found out it was because you had demon blood inside of you, I didn’t know what to think. You were still my son after all, but I didn’t know how much humanity was inside of you. I chose to care for you anyway and I hoped if you were raised in a loving home, you’d grow up to be a good man despite everything. And I was right, look at what a lovely person you are.”
Tears were streaming down her face, but she was smiling at him and took his hand. Chris didn’t know what to feel or think. There was demon blood inside of him. Mrs. Gray had been right, he had been corrupted by demons and that’s what created the darkness inside of him. Was he going to turn into one of them now?
He squeezed his mother’s hand and then the tears came, there was no holding them back.
“But the darkness, it’s getting stronger. What if I become a monster and hurt you all? No lovely person enjoys violence in battle, no lovely person dreams of killing people, killing his sister to be precise. I haven’t told any of you but it’s always Clary I’m killing in my dreams.”
He was full on sobbing now, but nobody was recoiling from him, instead, his mother stroked his hand and his sister hugged him tightly.
“I trust you,” she whispered, which only made him cry more. Did she not realise how dangerous he was for her?
“It makes sense,” Mrs. Gray said calmly. “That it’s Clary you’re killing in your dreams, I mean. She’s the one you have the strongest connection to. Demons live of pain and suffering and the best way to make someone suffer is to make them feel responsible for a loved one’s death. Which means the best way to get to you would be by making you believe you’re a monster that is dangerous to the one you’re supposed to protect with your life—your parabatai. The more you believe you are a monster yourself and thus the angrier and more hate filled you become, the stronger the demonic inside of you will get.”
“But why don’t I and Mum have this if Valentine experimented on us as well?” Clary asked.
Jocelyn shook her head. “I don’t think he experimented on us with demon blood. I don’t know what it was but when I was pregnant with Chris, I felt horrible, I isolated myself and all I could feel was dread. After that, it suddenly changed and while I was pregnant with you, Clary, I had a new determination to end Valentine’s reign of terror and stop the Uprising. I was prepared to kill him and had more energy than ever. I think he gave me something else, something that isn’t demonic.”
“Not demonic but angelic.”
Everyone looked at Mrs. Gray as if she’d just told them the dead were rising from their graves—and not in a vampire kind of way.
“With all due respect, angels are mythical creatures that reside in Heaven. Nobody has seen one since the Angel Raziel created us,” said Jocelyn.
“I have,” Mrs. Gray whispered and clasped the whitish-green pendant on her neck. Then she looked down and let go of it, a dreamlike expression of her face.
“Mrs. Gray?” Clary exchanged a look with Chris.
Has she lost her mind? her expression read.
But when Mrs. Gray finally spoke, her voice was firm and strong.
“I’m sorry, I just remembered something. The reason I was born alive, was not just because my mother was a Shadowhunter who bore no Marks but also because she wore a necklace.” Everyone looked at the pendant she had just clasped in her hand.
“No, not my jade pendant,” she said. “A clockwork angel. It wasn’t an ordinary necklace, a part of an angel’s soul was trapped inside of it and it was tuned to my life, to protect me from death. When I found out that it was made by an enemy of mine, I tried to destroy it in a fire, but it stayed intact and instead it summoned the angel trapped inside, Ithuriel. When we were in a particularly dire situation, I felt my only chance of saving my friends would be to change into him. It almost killed me but it freed Ithuriel and I’ve never worn the necklace since.”
“What do you mean, you changed into an angel?” Clary asked.
Mrs. Gray sighed, clearly not having intended to share this much personal information with a bunch of Shadowhunters. “My father was an Eidolon demon. I have the ability to shapeshift, but that’s not the point. What I’m trying to say is that if someone managed to trap an angel’s soul once, it could’ve happened again. And someone like Valentine strikes me as cruel enough to do just that.”
Chris shook his head in disbelief. Mrs. Gray had not just met an actual angel but had shapeshifted into one and survived. Oh, and his sister and mother had been administered angel blood while he was the unlucky one that had demon blood inside of him. He wondered if he’d swallowed the water of Lake Lyn and this was all a hallucination.
“There is something else,” Jocelyn said, biting her lip.
This didn’t bode well.
“I think Valentine experimented on Céline Herondale as well when she was pregnant. I tried to find out about it and noticed Jace Herondale has unusual eyes. I believe if it’s true and Clary and I have been given angel blood, that Herondale boy may have some special ability as well.”
Chris couldn’t help but groan. This day had gotten worse after all. Jace Herondale was the last person in the world he wanted to have anything to do with and there he was, sharing extra angel blood with his mother and sister. Because of course the Inquisitor’s son was extra angelic. Why hadn’t Valentine given him the demon blood instead? Just another reason added to the list of endless reasons to hate his father.
“Am I the bad influence or are you?” Chris asked his parabatai, who was currently in the process of drawing the Stealth rune on his arm.
“It was my idea, so I suppose I’m the bad influence this time.”
Clary had told him that she had tried to contact the angel whose blood ran through her veins with her mind, inspired by what Mrs. Gray had told them. And apparently, he had answered her with an image of Fairchild manor. Chris wasn’t all too sure whether to trust that vision. It wasn’t confirmed that Valentine had experimented with angel blood and if that wasn’t the case, the vision could have been sent by someone—or something— that wanted to hurt them.
But Fairchild manor could hold many answers and Clary suspected that whatever Valentine had done in the basement might still be there. Besides, both siblings were too curious not to go and take a closer look at it, not after everything that had happened in the past few days.
Suddenly, footsteps were coming closer. Clary had heard them too and, having finished the mark just in time, she pulled Chris behind a corner.
“That sounded like my sister’s voice. Clary? Are you—”
Before Jon could finish, Clary had jumped in front of him and covered his mouth with her hand.
“Shhh, it’s in the middle of the night, we are not supposed to be up and I don’t want to talk to Dean Thrushcross because you busted us.”
She removed her hand from his mouth and Chris decided there was no point in hiding from his brother and, as it turned out, Sebastian, who was always by his side lately.
“What are you guys doing?” Sebastian asked with a suspicious look at their freshly marked arms.
“Were you sneaking out without us?” Jon sounded appalled. “I’m deeply hurt. You didn’t even ask me, your brother?”
Should they tell them the truth? Jon was their brother, but Sebastian was pretty much a stranger. Still, Chris didn’t like the idea of lying to Jon. He looked at Clary, who was biting her lip, clearly thinking about the same thing. He decided to go for a compromise and tell them where they were going but not why.
“We’re on our way to Fairchild manor. Do you guys want to come with us?”
“Why on earth would you go there?” Jon asked with a frown.
“You weren’t the only one who wanted an adventure, Clary felt the need for it too. We didn’t want to get you into trouble, that’s why we didn’t ask you. I’m sorry.”
It wasn’t even a lie. Not exactly the truth either but definitely not a lie. Or at least that’s what he told himself.
Jon shrugged. “No hard feelings, it’s not like I’m usually the type who goes along with your shenanigans. But I do want to come this time. How about you, Seb?”
“What do you think?” he answered with an enthusiastic grin. Chris didn’t know much about Sebastian, but he was certain he was a bit of a troublemaker. At least he didn’t seem to be the ruthless but the carefree kind.
They quickly put some runes on themselves and then the four of them started sneaking through the corridors until they found the window in the first floor Clary had opened during the day. Or at least, that’s what they expected to find but when they arrived, the window was closed.
“Maybe we’re in the wrong wing?” Chris wondered.
“No, I’m sure this is where the window was.”
He was about to suggest checking anyway, just in case, when she held her hand up and closed her eyes. He exchanged a look with Jon and Sebastian who couldn’t offer any explanation.
After the moment passed, Clary furrowed her brows for a moment, then took out her stele.
“What are you doing?” Chris hissed.
She didn’t answer, instead she started drawing a rune in the air. What she drew was entirely unfamiliar. He realised that she must be drawing one of the runes in her visions. How could she be confident this wasn’t going to blow up the whole Academy? It wasn’t confirmed that an angel was sending them to her, even if she thought it had been one that had sent her the image of Fairchild manor. Sometimes Clary could be pretty reckless.
What appeared when she finished the rune, was not what he’d expected. It was a portal. Shadowhunters weren’t supposed to be able to create portals. Even Clary seemed shocked.
“How did you make a portal? I thought only warlocks could do this? C’est fantastique!” Sebastian asked.
“I’ll explain it to you later but for now, we should get going. Picture Fairchild manor, Sebastian, don’t think of anything and go after me and you’ll get there no trouble.”
“I know how portals work how do you think I came to Idris?”
Jon swallowed hard. “I don’t. Are you sure this is a portal and we’re not about to be swallowed into some dimension of hell?”
That’s when Sebastian grabbed his hand. “Don’t worry, cher,” he said in a low voice.
Chris felt like he was intruding on a private moment and averted his gaze, meeting Clary’s who wiggled her eyebrows at him and grinned. He couldn’t help but grin back. He had known Clary wouldn’t mind her brother’s sudden interest in a boy, but it was nice to see her excited by it. He’d never heard a Shadowhunter even talk about the possibility of boys liking boys or girls liking girls. But seeing Jon and Sebastian look at each other with adoration didn’t feel wrong to him at all.
Chris looked back right when Jon removed his hand from Sebastian’s and started awkwardly coughing. Lucky for Jon, it was impossible to see him blushing even with the nightvision rune, but Chris was sure his brother was beet red. Sebastian didn’t seem fazed at all, a tiny smile played about his mouth.
“Is everyone ready?” Chris asked, looking into his brother’s eyes for emphasis. He wouldn’t let him do something he didn’t feel comfortable doing.
“Yes,” Jon answered, and his voice was strong and steady.
Once they’d all arrived, they stood in silence, struck by the sad state Fairchild manor was in.
“So this is where Valentine died,” Sebastian said thoughtfully.
“This is also where our mother grew up and Valentine murdered our grandparents,” Clary said and gave them a sad, regretful look.
Chris tried to act like that wasn’t the reason they were there. “Let’s explore this place, maybe some hidden treasures are still in there.”
Neither Sebastian nor Jon questioned their true motives and instead the four of them swarmed around and inside of the ruins. Clary seemed to have a destination in mind and Chris followed her deeper into the house.
“There,” she whispered and pointed at a set of stairs leading into what must’ve been the basement.
“Be careful, this house was burned out completely. It might not be very stable.”
Clary nodded and started to descend downstairs. Chris could only follow.
They took out their witchlights and as they illuminated the dark basement, old cells came into view. And within them, burned bodies.
“So my theory was correct,” Clary said with an angry bite to it. “Nobody ever bothered to go through the whole house and rescue the people trapped down here. They probably left the house to burn out and then only took our grandparents’ bodies out. Look at this, that must’ve been a warlock.”
She pointed at a charred body that had something that looked like deformed bat wings on its back.
They went on and as they came closer to the second chamber, a glow was visible underneath the door. There were strange noises too. The door was heavy and out of metal, so Clary drew an opening rune on it.
As they entered the room, they were awestruck. A figure, illuminated by a faint glow, was sitting in a circle of runes. It had wings. And it was missing its eyes. It was an angel and he was dying.
Chris felt tears burning in his eyes. This was one of the biggest crimes against nature. The angels were the ones that had given them their blood, they owed them everything. This angel must have been imprisoned in the manor for at least 15 years.
While he was still trying to cope with what he was seeing, Clary knelt down and started changing the runes on the floor. Chris assumed it was the angel who had sent her the visions and that was what he was doing now as well.
“Who are you? What happened?”
This time, he saw visions too. There was a man with whitish blond hair and dark eyes—Valentine. He was summoning an angel named Ithuriel. Chris closed his eyes in pain. That was the same angel Mrs. Gray had mentioned. How could this have happened to him twice?
Then the scenery changed, there was Valentine again, this time with a dark-haired woman. No, not a woman, Chris realised. There were black snakes coming out of her eye sockets, she was a demon. His heart began to beat quicker. He didn’t know if he wanted to know her name anymore but Ithuriel either didn’t notice or didn’t care because Valentine said her name. Lilith, first wife of Adam, lover of Sammael, mother of warlocks—a greater demon nobody would want to mess with. And in the vision, she agreed to give Valentine her blood freely. It made him shudder. No demon would do such a thing if they didn’t think it benefitted them.
He felt a hand reach for his and realised Clary was seeing the same visions. He squeezed her hand tightly.
“Ithuriel, it’s her blood inside of me, isn’t it? I’ll do anything to get it out of me. I don’t want to be a demon.”
Another vision washed over him. Someone was sitting in a throne room. At first, he thought it was Valentine but when he got a better look at his face, Chris noticed it was himself he was seeing. But there was something off about him. He looked cold and the place he was in looked barren too. Through a window in the throne room, he noticed demons flying around everywhere. His stomach dropped. The Chris in the vision was in Edom.
This is you and yet it is not, an ethereal voice spoke in his head.
Chris didn’t understand what he was trying to tell him with that but Ithuriel seemed to be done.
“Is there anything we can do for you?” Clary asked.
“But you’re an angel, we can’t just kill you.” Clary looked crestfallen.
“He’s suffering, Clary, he’s dying. There’s nothing we can do.”
Chris took a dagger that belonged to the Academy and handed it to Ithuriel, who took it with a grateful look. An angel, grateful. Chris had to look away.
“Let’s give him privacy, Clary,” he said and grabbed her by the arm.
She was crying. “But we just met him, I still have so many questions.”
You should run and warn your friends.
Chris still had questions too, but he understood that there was nothing left to do. So he tightened his grip around Clary’s arm and started running towards the exit. The house started shaking and when they finally reached the outside, Chris started frantically looking for Jon and Sebastian.
He was relieved when he saw them away from the ruins leaning against a tree. They looked like they’d just broken away from a hug or a kiss, confusion on their faces. Chris and Clary sprinted towards them when what was left of Fairchild manor began to crumble.
“What did you do down there? Was that your plan?” Jon asked his siblings, frantically pacing up and down.
They could only shake their heads, still shaken by what had happened in the basement.
“Valentine was even more of a monster than I thought,” Clary said. “I can’t believe we have to call that man our father.”
Jon looked even more confused than before. “We don’t. Michael is our father.”
“What?” Sebastian asked, dumbfounded. “Would anyone please explain what’s going on?”
Clary and Chris exchanged a look and then they sat down and explained everything.
“Now that you know everything about us, what about you guys? Is it official yet or are you still pretending you’re not into each other?” Chris asked, trying to lighten the mood.
“Are you serious?” Jon asked. “That’s not important right now, a literal angel blew up Fairchild manor by killing himself!”
“Aie!” Sebastian exclaimed but he didn’t seem genuinely hurt.
“Is nobody taking this seriously?” Jon asked again.
Clary patted her brother’s back. “We are. We just need some better news after today. Something nice that isn’t related to demons and dying angels.”
Jon gave Sebastian a look, who shrugged. “It’s a fair point.”
Jon rolled his eyes. “Fine, we’re kind of dating. But it’s nothing official, so please don’t start talking about it to the others.”
“Who do you think we are?” Clary said simultaneously as Sebastian cried theatrically, “Kind of dating? Why would you hurt me like that?”
Jon punched his arm. “We haven’t known each other for that long, Seb.”
“You’re so cute. It’s so easy to get to you, did anyone ever tell you that?” Sebastian told him with a twinkle in his eye.
“All the time,” Chris agreed cheerfully, which led to another angry look from his brother. Worth it.
“Seriously, nobody is going to believe you aren’t a couple if you keep being so adorable together,” Clary said.
Sebastian’s face turned serious and he checked with Jon, perhaps to see if he would be okay with that. Jon answered with a shy smile and grabbed his hand.
Chris was glad at least one good thing had happened on this disaster of a day. It didn’t change the fact that Lilith kept popping into his mind though. Why did she give Valentine her blood? Did she know about him? Was she sending him those dreams? What was her plan?
I'm sorry I haven't been updating for a while. I'm busy with uni and work at the moment, so I can't promise that the next chapter will be up anytime soon. I'll do my best though!