But Lilith was dead. It was over. He tried to slide the dagger into his belt, but his hand didn't seem to want to obey the command his mind was giving it. He felt a sense of stinging heat across his chest, a searing pain. Looking down, he saw that the bloody line that had split Lilith's mark in half, where Clary had slashed him with the dagger, had healed. The mark gleamed redly against his chest.

Jace stopped trying to shove the dagger into his belt. His knuckles turned white as his grip tightened on the hilt, his wrist twisting, desperately trying to turn the blade on himself. His heart was pounding. He had accepted no iratzes. How had the mark healed so fast? If he could gash it again, disfigure it, even temporarily-


But his hand wouldn't obey him. His arm stayed stiffly at his side as his body turned, against his own will, toward the pedestal where Sebastian's body lay.

The coffin had begun to glow, with a cloudy greenish light-almost a witchlight glow, but there was something painful about this light, something that seemed to pierce the eye. Jace tried to take a step back, but his legs wouldn't move. Icy sweat trickled down his back. A voice whispered at the back of his mind.

Come here.

It was Sebastian's voice.

-- Advertisement --

Did you think you were free because Lilith is gone? The vampire's bite woke me; now her blood in my veins compels you.

Come here.

Jace tried to dig in his heels, but his body betrayed him, carrying him forward, though his conscious mind strained against it. Even as he tried to hang back, his feet moved him down the path, toward the coffin. The painted circle flashed green as he moved across it, and the coffin seemed to answer with a second flash of emerald light. And then he was standing over it, looking down.

Jace bit down hard on his lip, hoping the pain might shock him out of the dream state he was in. It didn't work. He tasted his own blood as he stared down at Sebastian, who floated like a drowned corpse in the water. Those are pearls that were his eyes. His hair was colorless seaweed, his closed eyelids blue. His mouth had the cold, hard set of his father's mouth. It was like looking at a young Valentine.

Without his volition, absolutely against his will, Jace's hands began to rise. His left hand laid the edge of the dagger against the inside of his right palm, where life and love lines crisscrossed each other.

Words spilled from his own lips. He heard them as if from an immense distance. They were in no language he knew or understood, but he knew what they were-ritual chanting. His mind was screaming at his body to stop, but it appeared to make no difference. He left hand came down, the knife clenched in it. The blade sliced a clean, sure, shallow cut across his right palm. Almost instantly it began to bleed. He tried to draw back, tried to pull his arm away, but it was as if he were encased in cement. As he watched in horror, the first blood drops splashed onto Sebastian's face.

Sebastian's eyes flew open. They were black, blacker than Valentine's, as black as the demon's who had called herself his mother. They fixed on Jace, like great dark mirrors, giving him back his own face, twisted and unrecognizable, his mouth shaping the words of the ritual, spilling forth in a meaningless babble like a river of black water.

The blood was flowing more freely now, turning the cloudy liquid inside the coffin a darker red. Sebastian moved. The bloody water shifted and spilled as he sat up, his black eyes fixed on Jace.

The second part of the ritual. His voice spoke inside Jace's head. It is almost complete.

Water ran off him like tears. His pale hair, pasted to his forehead, seemed to have no color at all. He raised one hand and held it out, and Jace, against the cry inside his own mind, held out the dagger, blade forward. Sebastian slid his hand along the length of the cold, sharp blade. Blood sprang up in a line across his palm. He knocked the dagger aside and took Jace's hand, gripping it with his own.

It was the last thing Jace had expected. He couldn't move to pull away. He felt each of Sebastian's cold fingers as they wrapped his hand, pressing their bleeding cuts together. It was like being gripped by cold metal. Ice began to spread up his veins from his hand. A shudder passed over him, and then another, powerful physical tremors so painful it felt as if his body were being turned inside out. He tried to scream-

And the cry died in his throat. He looked down at his and Sebastian's hands, clenched together. Blood ran through their fingers and down their wrists, as elegant as red lacework. It glittered in the cold electric light of the city. It moved not like liquid, but like moving red wires. It wrapped their hands together in a scarlet binding.

A peculiar sense of peace stole over Jace. The world seemed to fall away, and he was standing on the peak of a mountain, the world spread out before him, everything in it his for the taking. The lights of the city around him were no longer electric, but were the light of a thousand diamond-like stars. They seemed to shine down on him with a benevolent glow that said, This is good. This is right. This is what your father would have wanted.

He saw Clary in his mind's eye, her pale face, the fall of her red hair, her mouth as it moved, shaping the words I'll be right back. Five minutes.

And then her voice faded as another spoke over it, drowning it out. The image of her in his mind receded, vanishing imploringly into the darkness, as Eurydice had vanished when Orpheus had turned to look at her one last time. Her saw her, her white arms held out to him, and then the shadows closed over her and she was gone.

A new voice spoke in Jace's head now, a familiar voice, once hated, now oddly welcome. Sebastian's voice. It seemed to run through his blood, through the blood that passed through Sebastian's hand into his, like a fiery chain.

We are one now, little brother, you and I, Sebastian said.

We are one.

-- Advertisement --

Next :