"Was everyone out of the building?" he asked.
"I'm not sure. The demons were both inside and out. We caught a half dozen of them in the street, but . . ."
The building shuddered and seemed to stretch just an inch or two, as if it was being pulled upward.
"Get back from here," Magnus said. "I have no idea what happens next, but it looks like this whole thing could . . . just get back!"
In all his years, in all his studies, Magnus had never encountered anything that had prepared him for this - a building turned into a perfect Portal, a warlock who wanted to go home to the Void, using his own blood as a key. This was not in the lesson books. This would require guesswork. And a lot of luck. And probably some stupidity.
If he was wrong at any point, which he likely would be, he would be sucked into the Void. Into Hell itself. Which was where the stupidity came in.
Magnus pulled open the door. The Shadowhunter behind him cried out, but Magnus just yelled for him to stay back.
This is a terrible idea, Magnus thought as he found himself in the lobby again. This may be the worst idea I've ever had.
The fire that had blasted into the heart of the building had scorched every surface, blackening the ceiling, destroying the furnishings, exposing the floor under the carpet, and charring the great staircase. The doors to the ballroom, however, were completely unharmed.
Magnus stepped back inside the ballroom carefully.
Still not sucked into the Void, he thought. Good. Definitely good.
The bodies were now smoldering skeletons, and the white marble floor was completely fractured. The blood had evaporated and left a dark stain. The granite slab, however, was fine. It was also levitating, about six feet from the ground, bathed in the faint green light Magnus had seen earlier. Aldous was nowhere to be seen.
What are you?
The voice came from nowhere. It was in the room. It was outside. It was in Magnus's head.
"A warlock," Magnus answered. "And what are you?"
We are many.
"Please don't say you are legion. Someone's taken that."
Do you make mirth from the mundane scriptures, warlock?
"Just breaking the ice," Magnus said to himself.
"Where is Aldous?" Magnus said, more loudly.
He is with us. Now you will come with us. Come to the altar.
"I think I'll pass," Magnus said. "I've got a place here I like a lot."
This was interesting. It didn't seem that the demons could come out. If they could, they would have. This was what demons did. But a connection had been opened. A one-way connection, but still a connection.
Magnus stepped just a tiny bit closer, trying to look for any markings on the floor, anything to tell him how large the Portal was. There was nothing.
Warlock, do you not tire of your life?
"That's a very philosophical question for a nameless and faceless voice from a Void," Magnus replied.
Do you not tire of eternity? Do you not wish to end your suffering?
"By leaping into the Void? Not really."
You are like us. You have our blood. You are one of us. Come and be welcome. Come and be with your own.
Blood . . .
If warlock blood opened the Portal . . . well, warlock blood might be able to close it.
. . . or not.
It was as good a guess as any.
"Why would you want that?" Magnus asked. "Pandemonium has to be a pretty crowded place, considering you're always trying to leave it."
Would you not know your father?
Yes, warlock. Your father. Would you not know him?
"My father never took much interest in me," Magnus said.
Would you not know your father, even if you spoke to him?
Magnus stopped on that one.
"No," he said. "I don't suppose I would. Unless you are trying to tell me that what I am hearing now is the voice of my father."
You hear your own blood, warlock.
Magnus regarded the levitating slab, the destruction, the remains of the bodies. He also became dimly aware of a presence behind him. Some of the Shadowhunters had come inside and were looking at the slab, but seemed to hear nothing.
"Magnus?" one of them asked.
"Keep back," Magnus replied.
Why do you protect them? They would not protect you.
Magnus went to the closest Shadowhunter, grabbed a blade, and cut himself.
"You." He pointed to the Shadowhunter who had shot Aldous. "Give me an arrow. Now."
The arrow was handed over, and Magnus tipped it in his blood. Then he rubbed some more blood down the shaft for good measure. He didn't need the bow. He directed the arrow at the slab with all his might, casting every Portal-closing spell he knew.
It felt like he was locked in place, his entire body concrete, time stretched and slow. Magnus was no longer certain where, or maybe even what, he was, only that he was still spell-casting, only that the altar remained, and the voices in his mind were yelling. Hundreds of voices. Thousands of them.
Magnus . . .
Magnus, come to me. . . .
Magnus, come. . . .
But Magnus held on. And then the slab fell to the ground, breaking into countless pieces.
There was a figure leaning against Magnus's hotel door when he returned home that night.
"You got the message then, huh?" Dolly said. "About the mundie money? Guess it all went bust, huh?"
"It does appear to have all gone bust," Magnus said.
"I didn't think you believed me."
Magnus leaned against the opposite wall and sighed heavily. There was no noise from any of the rooms on the hall, except for some distant, muffled yelling at the far end. He got the feeling that many people were probably leaving the hotel now that they had no money to pay the bill, or they were sitting behind their doors in stunned silence. And yet they had no idea that the crash was really the least of their worries, and the real danger had been averted. They would never know. They never did.
"You look tired," Dolly said. "Like you need a pick-me-up."
"I just closed a Portal to the Void. I need sleep. About three days' worth."
Dolly let out a low whistle.
"My friend said you're a hot potato. She wasn't joking, huh?"
Dolly slapped a hand over her mouth, nicking her nose with her long, lacquered nails.
"Who sent you?" Magnus asked.
Dolly lowered her hand and flashed a smile.
"A good friend of yours."
"I'm not sure I have any good friends."
"Oh, you do." Dolly swung her tiny beaded purse in a loop. "You do. See ya around, Magnus."
She made her way down the hall with a swinging step, turning around every once in a while to look back at him. Magnus slid down the wall a few inches, feeling the exhaustion hanging over his entire body. But with one massive effort, he pulled himself up and hurried after Dolly. He watched from around the corner as she got into an elevator, and he immediately pushed the button for the next one. This elevator was quite full of grim-looking people, visibly shattered by the day's news. So what he was going to do next was very unfortunate for them.
Magnus flicked his fingers and took over the control of the elevator from the operator, sending it on a very fast, somewhat uncontrolled descent. He'd tipped the operator very well the other day, so he felt he had a pass to take over if he liked. He had no such pass for the other passengers, who all started screaming as the elevator dropped floor after floor.
He made it to the lobby before Dolly, pushing past the still-traumatized (and several praying) people in his elevator. He ducked through the lobby, staying off to the side, behind columns and potted palms and groups of people. He slipped inside a telephone cabinet and watched Dolly pass by, her heels clicking lightly on the marble floor. He followed her, as quietly and inconspicuously as possible, to the front door, glamouring himself to slip past the doorman. There was a car just outside, a massive red Pierce-Arrow, with silver curtains over the windows of the passenger area, concealing the inhabitant's face. The door, however, was open. A driver stood by, at attention. Though the opening, Magnus could see a foot and an ankle, both very handsome, and a little silver shoe, and a bit of stockinged leg. Dolly bounced over to the car and leaned into the open door. They had a conversation Magnus couldn't hear, and then Dolly proceeded to climb inside the car, giving all the people in front of the Plaza a nice look at her rear end. Then the passenger leaned forward to speak to the driver, and Magnus caught her face in profile. There was no mistaking the face.
It was Camille.