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Authors: Cassandra Clare

Tags: #Social Issues, #Juvenile Fiction, #Fantasy & Magic, #General, #Other, #Historical

Clockwork Princess (36 page)

BOOK: Clockwork Princess
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“Let me guess,” said Charlotte. “You did not stop there.”

“Of course not,” said the old man. “What are man’s Laws to the Angel’s? I know the right way of doing things. I kept a lower profile, but I did not cease taking spoils, or destroying those Downworlders who crossed my path. One of those was John Shade.”

“Mortmain’s father.”

“Warlocks cannot have children,” snarled Starkweather. “Some human boy they found and trained up. Shade taught him his unholy tinkering ways. Won his trust.”

“It’s unlikely the Shades stole Mortmain from his parents,” said Charlotte. “He was probably a boy who would have died in a workhouse otherwise.”

“It was unnatural. Warlocks should not have human children to raise.” Aloysius stared deep within the red embers of the fire. “That is why we raided Shade’s house. We killed him and his wife. The boy escaped. Shade’s
clockwork prince
.” He snorted. “We took several of his items back with us to the Institute, but none of us could make head or tail of them. That was all there was to it—a routine raid. Everything according to plan. That is, until my granddaughter was born. Adele.”

“I know that she died at her first rune ceremony,” said Charlotte, her hand unconsciously going to her own belly. “I am sorry. It is a great sorrow to have a sickly child—”

“She was not born sickly!” he barked. “She was a healthy infant. Beautiful, with my son’s eyes. Everyone doted on her, until one morning my daughter-in-law woke us with a scream. She insisted that the child in her cradle was not her daughter, though they looked exactly alike. She swore she knew her own child and this was not it. We thought she had gone mad. Even when the baby’s eyes changed from blue to gray—well, that happens often with infants. It wasn’t until we tried to apply her first Marks that I began to realize my daughter-in-law had been right. Adele—the pain was excruciating for her. She screamed and screamed and writhed. Her skin burned where the stele touched her. The Silent Brothers did all they could, but by the next morning she was dead.”

Aloysius paused and was silent for a long time, gazing, as if fascinated, into the fire.

“My daughter-in-law nearly went mad. She could not bear to remain in the Institute. I stayed. I knew she had been correct—Adele was
not
my granddaughter. I heard rumors of faeries and other Downworlders who boasted that they had had their revenge on the Starkweathers, had taken one of their children from them and replaced her with a sickly human. None of my investigations yielded anything concrete, but I was determined to find out where my granddaughter had gone.” He leaned on the mantel. “I had nearly given up when Tessa Gray came to my Institute in the company of your two Shadowhunters. She could have been the ghost of my daughter-in-law, so similar did they look. But she did not appear to have any Shadowhunter blood. It was a mystery, but one I pursued.

“The faerie I interrogated today gave me the last bits of the puzzle. In her infancy my granddaughter was replaced with a kidnapped human child, a sickly creature who died when the Marks were applied, because she was not Nephilim.” There was a hard crack in his voice now, a fissure in the flint. “My granddaughter was left with a mundane family to raise her, their sickly Elizabeth—chosen because of her superficial resemblance to Adele—replaced with our healthy girl. That was the Court’s revenge on me. They believed I had killed their own, so they would kill mine.” His eyes were cold as they rested on Charlotte. “Adele—Elizabeth—grew to womanhood in that mundane family, never knowing what she was. And then she married. A mundane man. His name was Richard. Richard Gray.”

“Your granddaughter,” Charlotte said slowly, “was Tessa’s mother? Elizabeth Gray? Tessa’s mother was a Shadowhunter?”

“Yes.”

“These are crimes, Aloysius. You should go to the Council with this—”

“They do not care about Tessa Gray,” said Starkweather roughly. “But you do. You will listen to my story because of it, and you may help me because of it.”

“I may,” said Charlotte, “if it is the right thing to do. I do not yet understand how Mortmain comes into this story.”

Aloysius moved restlessly. “Mortmain learned of what had happened and determined that he would make use of Elizabeth Gray, a Shadowhunter who did not know she was a Shadowhunter. I believe that Mortmain courted Richard Gray as an employee in order to grant himself access to Elizabeth. I believe that he loosed an Eidolon demon upon her—my granddaughter—in the shape of her husband, and that he did it in order to get Tessa on her. Tessa was always the goal. The child of a Shadowhunter and a demon.”

“But the offspring of demons and Shadowhunters are stillborn,” Charlotte said automatically.

“Even if the Shadowhunter does not know they are a Shadowhunter?” said Starkweather. “Even if they carry no runes?”

“I …” Charlotte closed her mouth. She had no idea what the answer was; as far as she knew, the situation had never occurred. Shadowhunters were marked when children, male and female, all of them.

But Elizabeth Gray had not been.

“I know the girl is a shape-shifter,” said Starkweather. “But I do not believe that is why he wants her. There is something else he wants her to do. Something only she can do. She is the key.”

“The key to what?”

“It was the last words the faerie spoke to me this afternoon.” Starkweather glanced at the blood on his sleeve. “He said, ‘She is to be our vengeance for all your wasteful death. She will bring ruin to the Nephilim, and London will burn, and when the Magister rules over all, you will be no more to him than cattle in a pen.’ Even if the Consul does not wish to go after Tessa for her own sake, they ought to go after her to prevent that.”

“If they believe it,” said Charlotte.

“Coming from your lips, they must,” said Starkweather. “If it came from me, they would laugh me off as a mad old man, as they have done for years.”

“Oh, Aloysius. You far overestimate the trust the Consul has in me. He will say I am a foolish, credulous woman. He will say the faerie lied to you—well, they cannot lie, but twisted the truth, or repeated the truth as he believed it.”

The old man looked away, his mouth working. “Tessa Gray is the key to Mortmain’s plan,” he said. “I do not know how, but she is. I have come to you because I do not trust the Council with Tessa. She is part demon. I remember what in the past I have done to things that were part demon or supernatural.”

“Tessa is not a thing,” Charlotte said. “She is a girl, and she has been kidnapped and is probably terrified. Don’t you think if I could have thought of a way to save her already, I would have done it?”

“I have done wrong,” said Aloysius. “I want to make this right. My blood runs in that girl’s veins, even if demon blood does as well. She is my great-granddaughter.” He raised his chin, his watery, pale eyes rimmed with red. “I ask only one thing of you, Charlotte. When you find Tessa Gray, and you will find her, tell her she is welcome to the name of Starkweather.”

Do not make me regret that I have trusted you, Gabriel Lightwood
.

Gabriel sat at the desk in his room, writing paper spread out before him, pen in hand. The lamps in the room were not lit, and the shadows were dark in the corners, and long across the floors.

To: Consul Josiah Wayland

From: Gabriel Lightwood

Most Honored Consul
,

I write to you today at last with the news that you requested of me. I had expected it to come from Idris, but as chance would have it, its source is much closer to home. Today Aloysius Starkweather, head of the York Institute, came to call upon Mrs. Branwell
.

He set the pen down and took a deep breath. He had heard the bell of the Institute ring earlier, had watched from the stairs as Sophie had ushered Starkweather into the house and up to the drawing room. It was easy enough after that to station himself at the door and listen to everything that passed within the room.

Charlotte did not, after all, expect to be spied on.

He is an old man gone mad with grief, and as such he has created an elaborate set of fabrications with which he explains to himself his great loss. He is certainly to be pitied, but not to be taken seriously, nor should the policy of the Council rest upon the words of the untrustworthy and the mad
.

The floorboards creaked; Gabriel’s head jerked up. His heart was pounding. If it was Gideon—Gideon would be horrified to discover what he was doing. They all would. He thought of the look of betrayal that would bloom across Charlotte’s small face if she knew. Henry’s bewildered anger. Most of all he thought of a pair of blue eyes in a heart-shaped face, looking at him with disappointment.
Maybe I have faith in you, Gabriel Lightwood
.

When he set the pen back to the letter, he did so with such ferocity that the pen nearly tore through the paper.

I regret to report this, but they spoke together of both Council and Consul with great disrespect. It is clear that Mrs. Branwell resents what she sees as unnecessary interference in her plans. She met Mr. Starkweather’s wild claims, such as that Mortmain has bred demons and Shadowhunters together, a clear impossibility, with sheer credulousness. It appears that you were correct, and that she is far too headstrong and easily influenced to head an Institute properly
.

Gabriel bit his lip and forced himself not to think of Cecily; instead he thought of Lightwood House, his birthright; the good name of the Lightwoods restored; the safety of his brother and sister. He was not really harming Charlotte. It was only a question of her position, not her safety. The Consul had no dark plans for her. Surely she would be happier in Idris, or in some country house, watching her children run over green lawns and not worrying constantly about the fate of all Shadowhunters.

Though Mrs. Branwell exhorts you to send a force of Shadowhunters to Cadair Idris, anyone who makes the opinions of madmen and hysterics the cornerstone of their policies lacks the objectivity to be trusted
.

If necessary, I shall swear by the Mortal Sword that all this is true
.

Yours in Raziel’s name
,

Gabriel Lightwood

16
T
HE
C
LOCKWORK
P
RINCESS

O Love! who bewailest
The frailty of all things here,
Why choose you the frailest
For your cradle, your home, and your bier?

—Percy Bysshe Shelley,
“Lines: When the Lamp Is Shattered”

To: Consul Josiah Wayland

From: Charlotte Branwell

Dear Consul Wayland
,

I have but this moment received tidings of the gravest import, which I hasten to impart to you. An informant, whose name I cannot at this time disclose but whom I vouch for as reliable, has relayed to me details that suggest to me that Miss Gray is no mere passing fancy of Mortmain’s but a key to his main objective: to wit, the utter destruction of us all
.

He plots to construct devices of greater power than any we have yet before seen, and I deeply fear that Miss Gray’s unique abilities will aid him in this endeavor. She would never intend harm to us, but we do not know what threats or indignities Mortmain will offer her. It is imperative that she be rescued at once, as much to save us all as to aid her
.

In light of this new information, I once more implore you to gather what forces you may and march upon Cadair Idris
.

Yours sincerely, and in sincere distress
,

Charlotte Branwell

Tessa woke slowly, as if consciousness were at the end of a long, dark corridor and she were walking toward it at a snail’s pace, her hand outstretched. Finally she reached it, and swung the door open to reveal—

Blinding light. It was golden light, not pale like witchlight. She sat up and looked around her.

She was in a simple brass bed, with a deep feather tick spread over a second mattress, and a heavy eiderdown quilt on top. The room she was in looked as if it had been hollowed out of a cave. There was a tall dresser, and a washstand with a blue jug on it; there was also a wardrobe, its door hanging open just enough that Tessa could see that garments hung inside. There were no windows in the room, though there was a fireplace in which a cheerful blaze burned. On either side of the fireplace were hung portraits.

She slid from the bed and winced as her bare feet encountered cold stone. It was not as painful as she would have expected, though, given her battered state. Glancing down, she had two quick shocks: the first was that she was wearing nothing but an oversize black silk dressing gown. The second was that her cuts and bruises seemed to have largely disappeared. She still felt slightly sore, but her skin, pale against the black silk, was unmarked. Touching her hair, she felt that it was clean and loose around her shoulders, no longer matted with mud and blood.

That did leave the question of who had cleaned her, healed her, and put her in this bed. Tessa remembered nothing beyond struggling with the automatons in the small farmhouse while Mrs. Black laughed. Eventually one of them had choked her into unconsciousness and a merciful darkness had come. Still, the idea of Mrs. Black undressing and bathing her was horrible, though not perhaps as horrible as the idea of Mortmain doing it.

Most of the furniture in the room was grouped on one side of the cave. The other side was largely bare, though she could see the black rectangle of a doorway cut into the far wall. After a brief glance around she made her way toward it—

Only to find herself, halfway across the room, brought up bruisingly short. She staggered back, gathering her dressing gown more tightly about her, her forehead stinging where she had smacked it on
something
. Gingerly she reached out, tracing the air in front of her.

And she felt solid hardness in front of her, as if a perfectly clear glass wall stood between her and the other side of the room. She flattened her hands against it. Invisible it might be, but it was as hard as adamant. She moved her hands up, wondering how high it could possibly go—

BOOK: Clockwork Princess
10.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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