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Chapter 1: A boy’s innocence (Young Alec meets Magnus)
It burns into your heart, the darkness that you fear (And we run, Within Temptation)
Magnus couldn’t believe he had been captured; what a fool he had been! Ragnor Fell had warned him – told him not to trust Valentine, to give up on his hope for a peaceful resolution to the growing conflict with Idris and yet like a 100 year old naive warlock he had gone ahead.
Idris had never been a friend of the Downworld but when Valentine had managed to seize power two years ago the hidden racism Idris had harbored in its dealings with the Downworld had been released full force. Valentine openly advocated for a final solution to the problem with the half-demon population. At first Magnus had dismissed Valentine as a madman for surely no one would listen to such nonsense? Yet he had underestimated the feeling of superiority many Shadowhunters almost seemed born with. He had underestimated the hidden racism of centuries past, centuries of conflict between Nephilim and Downworlders and how it had built an atmosphere of mistrust and disregard. No Downworlders were now allowed into Idris – even diplomats had been expelled.
More and more Downworlders were put on trial for drummed up charges and given a swift trial and an even quicker death – mainly by burning which seemed to be a favorite form of capital punishment in Idris. Rumors started to circulate about how Valentine would treat captured Downworlders, experiment on them, kill them when he no longer had any use for them but only after he had satisfied his sick amusement with breaking them. The rumors of the prisons Valentine supposedly ran were so horrible Magnus could barely listen to them – talks of warlock babies cut from their mother’s womb, werewolves being killed by being cut apart limb by limb while they were still alive, screaming in agony for hours on end. It was too horrible to be true.
The Seelies barricaded themselves in their realm but were willing to help both Valentine and Downworlders – when it suited them and for a price, always betting on both sides. His people in turmoil, lost and confused, Magnus Bane spoke with two Shadowhunters who risked de-runing and much worse to plead with him to try and barter a peace with Valentine. These two Shadowhunters managed to convince Magnus because they were none other than Jocelyn Fray and Lucian Graymark, Valentine’s own wife, mother of his newly born daughter, and his parabatai.
Magnus had gotten an invitation to Idris by Valentine as Jocelyn and Lucian had promised he would. However, the peace talks were never to happen. As soon as Magnus had arrived in Idris with a handful of his people, nine in total, they had been surrounded. With the prospect of seeing most of his people slaughtered and still unable to believe things really were as bad in Idris as rumors had it, Magnus had surrendered, somehow still believing reason would prevail.
Magnus had quickly learned that the rumors about Idris, about what Valentine had made the Shadowhunter nation into – it was all true. The hatred had become institutionalized; violence was a way of life. Love and compassion was weakness now more than it had ever been seen in Idris.
Valentine himself had been in charge of Magnus’s imprisonment. The first thing he had done was inject him with something that made him unable to use his magic. He could maintain a glamour but that was it; he had no magic to use. Valentine ensured the injections continued like clockwork. The physical marks were long black veins on his body. The drugs made him feel tired and weak, a little bit floaty, like he wasn’t quite there. The latter turned out to be a blessing – Valentine had quickly revealed he wanted three things from Magnus: 1. Names of the Shadowhunters who still had not bought into his vision, clearly wanting to clean house once and for all, 2. The whereabouts of all warlocks Magnus knew of; starting with the most powerful ones and 3. A way for Valentine to tap into the powers of Edom. As the son of Asmodeus, Prince of Edom, Valentine believed Magnus might know a way.
An Idris prison was like most things in Idris; lacking in imagination as far as Magnus was concerned. Bare stonewalls, no windows and metal bars facing a seemingly endless hallway. The cell Magnus was in faced another wall so through the metal bars he could only see the people passing by outside. The cell was small but large enough to hold a bed, a sink and a toilet – thank Lilith Idris had made some modern upgrades to the otherwise Middle Age looking architecture. He even had a small blanket; he was amazed how grateful he had been for that as the nights were cold and central heating was apparently a foreign concept in Idris – at least for prisoners. The lights in the hallway were small and always on. This and the lack of windows made it difficult to tell time and there were no clocks. Magnus estimated he had been a prisoner for almost eight weeks now.
The days were starting to blur into one; the food was always the same – bread and water (not very original!) – and on good days that was all that happened. That he got feed and he could sit on the bed, listening to the screams of other prisoners far off, worrying about his own fate, nothing to do, his mind racing and making up more and more horrible scenarios. The bad days, and there were many of those, were when one of Valentine’s men, or several of them, came to question him. They had started off with beatings, a classic after all. Then it had gone from there; by now they had gone through all the five major torture groups: Blunt, sharp, hot, cold, and loud. Idris of course had a supply of quite capable doctors who would keep a prisoner conscious as long as possible for the pain to last way past normal endurance with drugs and if all fails; revival. The doctors would always put him back together again, healing him enough so he could be broken all over again and leaving just enough residual pain for his body to stay in a constant state of discomfort. Valentine himself did the worst torture; the man was nothing if not creative. The last few times he had proven himself the evil mastermind he was; he had executed one of Magnus’s men each hour for 4 hours straight when Magnus still didn’t speak. He had then thrown him back in his cell to think about what might happen tomorrow. Magnus knew what would happen; he was resigned to it. Valentine would kill all the people he had brought with him and in some ways them dying now was a mercy compared to staying alive here, in this living hell Valentine had created.
Magnus couldn’t and wouldn’t talk even though a piece of his heart was dying each time one of his men was killed before his eyes. However, it was getting harder and harder not to break, not to give in. His body and mind were always in flames, being broken and bent out of shape over and over again. He had never known pain like this; he had never known hatred like this. He was losing himself in the darkness, in the pain. There was nothing left but blood, pain, tears and an agony that knew no bounds. Idris had become a land of pain for anyone different, anyone out of place. There was no light here any longer; what little compassion Idris had once held towards Downworlders was dead and buried. Valentine’s rule was supreme. So why fight it? Everything was lost – the Downworld had lost to Idris again and this time…this time they would be lucky if they would only be enslaved. Valentine sought their complete destruction. Oh, Valentine might keep a few Downworlders alive for the novelty value but that was about it. The world was breaking and nothing could ever heal it.
“Why are you here?” The voice, a young boy’s voice, filed with curiosity and honest puzzlement startled Magnus out of his half slumber and the darkness of his own mind. He sat up on his bed in his cell and went over by the iron bars. It was a small Shadowhunter child, a boy, around four years old. He had brown hair and was nervously biting his lower lip, waiting for Magnus to answer. He had long thick lashes and he looked worried when he saw how frail Magnus looked under the lose prisoner robe he had been forced into. The boy looked almost…angelic and very out of place among the echoing screams of the captured Downworlders.
“Come to look at the freak, young Shadowhunter?” Magnus asked bitterly with a defeated air as he sat down on the floor by the iron bars, wincing when he did so due to the pain in his body, his hands holding around the bars to better look at the boy. Magnus had taken a brutal beating a few days before, his ribs were still bruised, he still had cuts, and bruises the doctors hadn’t healed. However, having watched Valentine kill four of his friends yesterday and knowing as soon as Valentine brought him back the last five would die was more agonizing than any physical pain Valentine had subjected him to.
His expression hardened further when he noticed a rune on the boy’s arm, reminding Magnus of how much he hated the race; every tormenter he had had in this place had had runes and all of them had been cruel and spiteful; even the doctors seemed to enjoy inflicting pain more than mending wounds.
The boy frowned at his question, clearly not sure how to answer it.
“You are bleeding!” the boy gasped in horror, pointing to Magnus’s hands.
Magnus looked surprised at the boy. Weird, he sounded…worried? A Shadowhunter worried for a Downworlder? Not possible.
“Yeah…that happens a lot when you are a guest with Valentine,” Magnus said darkly, flexing his hands around the iron bars, wincing at the pain it brought his bruised and bleeding knuckles.
The boy knelt outside the iron bars and reached out to touch his hands. Magnus tensed, bracing himself for a hit, for pain, but refusing to pull away. However, the boy put a tender hand on his bruised knuckles and gave his palm around the iron bar a small reassuring squeeze, wincing in sympathy before he withdrew his hand and looked straight at Magnus.
“Well…I wouldn’t want to be his guest then,” the boy said with a child’s logic, his voice certain and clear.
Magnus couldn’t help but laugh a little; he had never thought he would laugh in this miserable place; he hadn’t heard laughter here except for the cruel sounds some of his tormenters made when they wanted to humiliate him.
“What are you doing here, youngling?” Magnus asked curiously.
The boy shrugged and looked down for a moment, clearly knowing he had done something he shouldn’t have and now fearful of the consequences. Then he looked back at Magnus.
“My father needed to talk to Valentine. I heard voices from down here…why are there screams?” the boy asked worried, innocently. “Are they…in pain?”
Magnus was again taken back by the compassion in the boy’s face. How was this possible? How could this boy even consider compassion when all he was taught, everything around him, was hatred and darkness?
“Yes, they are,” Magnus replied honestly, briefly closing his eyes in sympathy for his fellow Downworlders. He had been here so long he had almost forgotten about the screams; they were always there and never stopped. When he had first arrived he had not been able to sleep because of the screams and he had been certain he never would. Now….now, he barely heard them. Weird what you can get used to.
“Oh….” The boy said softly, sadly, looking down, clearly distressed by this.
“You don’t like that, do you?” Magnus asked slowly, surprised.
The boy gave him a piercing look. “No, of course not!”
Magnus was again taken back by the passion in the boy, the clarity of his beliefs.
“You do know they are Downworlders, right?” Magnus asked softly pausing before he added, “That I am a Downworlder?”
The boy looked at him again, curiously, searchingly as if trying to find something unusual about him but then shook his head and said, “You look like a man to me.”
“Well, I do have these,” Magnus said and let his glamour fade so his cat eyes appeared. He was expecting the boy now to react the way Magnus had anticipated all along – yell, be disgusted…anything but what he did.
“Oh! Like a cat! I love cats!” the boy said happily and reached out a hand as if he wanted to touch Magnus’ face but then stopped the hand mid-air but still smiled, blushing a little at his own excitement.
Magnus couldn’t have been more shocked at the boy’s reaction. Was he dreaming this? This boy of light in a place of darkness? Was this a trick? Magnus let his glamour return.
“You are not like other Shadowhunters,” Magnus commented thoughtfully.
The boy blushed, looking down, embarrassed. “Sorry. People keep saying that,” he said sadly. “My father says I need to be stronger.”
Magnus shook his head, the smallest of smiles around his lips. “No, young one. You are strong like this. Compassion is strength. Never forget that.” He didn’t know why but he really wanted the boy to remember that. He knew he couldn’t, he wouldn’t, no one could survive this Hell and stay untainted…yet inside his heart he wanted to believe it.
The boy thought about his words and then nodded, his expression serious. “Can I…can I help you?”
Magnus smiled for real now at hearing that, words he had never thought he would ever hear from a Shadowhunter ever again and he was certain he never would again.
Magnus shook his head. “No, little one. No.” There was no escape but death; dragging a little boy into this would not change that.
“Oh…” The boy looked sad. A voice echoed through the hallway, making the boy turn towards it, his body tensing, his hands forming fists. When he turned back to look at Magnus his expression was serious, his eyes piercing, his voice strong.
“Facilis descensus Averno,” the boy told him.
“The descent into Hell is easy,” Magnus translated the words effortlessly. “Why do you say that?” He asked curiously.
“When I mess up and my father beats me I think of it,” the young boy said honestly.
Magnus couldn’t help but wince at the thought of this young boy, so sweet, being beaten. One day they would succeed in beating the kindness out of him and Magnus was happy he had met him before that happened. The thought of this young boy becoming just like the Shadowhunters who enjoyed bringing him pain in ever more imaginative ways was almost more painful than anything else he had experienced or seen here in Idris.
“And it helps?”
The boy nodded. “It reminds me that he should never see my tears,” the boy’s voice was soft, pained, his eyes clouded with remembered pain yet there was an edge of streel, of strength in the boy that was not to be denied.
The voice called again, making the boy wince, something close to panic in his expression. He squeezed Magnus’s nearest hand around the iron bar in comfort.
“Don’t ever let them see your tears,” the boy reminded him, his voice strong but filled with pain he was barely able to hold back.
“Come here! Now!” The voice was louder now, impatient, a male voice, filled with authority, a voice used to being obeyed. The boy gave Magnus a comforting smile before he released his hand and ran off.
Magnus looked after him for a long while, missing the warmth of his hands and the kindness of his smile. He hadn’t known a soft touch for weeks.
Magnus could hear the angry voice talk again and could hear the young boy answer but couldn’t make out the words. If he had been able to hear them he would have heard the following exchange.
“Alexander Lightwood! I told you to stay put!”
“Sorry, father, but I heard voices. They are suffering. Father, we must help them.”
The sound of the slap the man gave the young boy echoed in the halls and reached even Magnus’s ears, making him wince in sympathy. This time Magnus could make out the words as the man spoke again. “Never say that again! Ever! They are Downworlders. Such talk is treasonous!”
The voices died out and Magnus was alone with the screams of his follow Downworlders and his thoughts. For the following agonizing months of imprisonment and torture Magnus clung to the young boy’s words of courage, the purity of the boy’s soul a light to hold onto in the mist of darkness and anguish.
Magnus ended up being Valentine’s prisoner for almost five months but never broke. As time would tell Magnus would be the only prisoner Valentine had never been able to break. Little did he know that the strength to carry on had come from one young defiant Shadowhunter – a boy who while being raised in darkness refused to let that darkness touch his heart.
The ordeal taught Magnus to hate like he had never hated before. His freedom claimed the lives of many Downworlders when they made an assault on the prison; the assault had only been possible due to the insider help of Jocelyn Fray and Lucian Graymark who as a consequence also had to flee Alicante with Jocelyn’s daughter – now forever hunted by Valentine and Idris itself for their betrayal.
Magnus Bane rose to become the commander of the Allied Downworld forces in the ongoing war against Valentine, against Idris. The tide of the war started to turn when Magnus managed to unite the Seelies with him against the Nephilim armies.
As years passed and the bitter war dragged on and on, Magnus would at times wonder what fate had befallen the young Nephilim boy. His heart grew darker, grew colder…and he wondered less and less about his fate until one day he was simply a faint memory that the warlock would ever so rarely think about.
When Ragnor Fell was captured Magnus scarified hundreds to save him and the other prisoners. The Allied forces suffered heavy losses but managed to free the prison camp and Ragnor Fell was among the prisoners still alive when the hard-won victory was theirs. However, the warlock who returned to them was never the same as before his capture. He bore the physical and mental scars of the torture and brutality he had been subject to and would never again join the war effort. And Magnus’s hatred grew and his heart started to blacken.
When a group of warlock children were taken captive, among them the little Madzie Loss, adoptive daughter of his dear friend Catarina who had remained a healer throughout the war effort, it was the last straw. By a weird twist of fate only one of the taken warlock children ever returned home; Madzie Loss, with a tale of a young Shadowhunter named Alexander who had saved her. The story had done nothing to cool the gowning hatred inside Magnus when his forces found the mutilated and broken bodies of the other children who had not been as fortunate as Madzie had been.
Magnus now knew for sure that Idris was lost. No mercy, no redemption – this was war, this was survival and either Idris was destroyed forever or there would be no Downworld. While Valentine actively sought the destruction of the Downworld, Magnus now returned the favor and actively sought to destroy Idris and the Nephilim once and for all. It was a battle to the death and no one would be left untouched, unscarred, by this war. And Magnus’s heart turned black and cold as ice, bitterness and hatred fueling him, driving him further towards victory.
Yet fate would have it that Magnus ended up meeting the young boy again when that boy was no longer a boy and no longer innocent. Not knowing who he was the darkness that had invaded Magnus’s soul almost ended up destroying them both.