Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1)(11)

by Cassandra Clare

She moved toward Tessa—and was blocked by Will leaping down from the table to put himself between them. “Malik,” he said, and his ice-white blade blazed up like a star.

“Get out of my way, little Nephilim warrior,” said Mrs. Black. “And take your seraph blades with you. This is not your battle.”

“You’re wrong about that.” Will narrowed his eyes. “I’ve heard some things about you, my lady. Whispers that run through Downworld like a river of black poison. I’ve been told you and your sister will pay handsomely for the bodies of dead humans, and you don’t much mind how they get that way.”

“Such a fuss over a few mundanes.” Mrs. Dark chuckled and moved to stand beside her sister, so that Will, with his blazing sword, was between Tessa and both ladies. “We have no quarrel with you, Shadowhunter, unless you choose to pick one. You have invaded our territory and broken Covenant Law in doing so. We could report you to the Clave—”

“While the Clave disapproves of trespassers, oddly they take an even darker view of beheading and skinning people. They’re peculiar that way,” Will said.

“People?” Mrs. Dark spat. “Mundanes. You care no more about them than we do.” She looked toward Tessa then. “Has he told you what he really is? He isn’t human—”

“You’re one to talk,” Tessa said in a trembling voice.

“And has she told you what she is?” Mrs. Black demanded of Will. “About her talent? What she can do?”

“If I were to venture a guess,” Will replied, “I would say it has something to do with the Magister.”

Mrs. Dark looked suspicious. “You know of the Magister?” She glanced at Tessa. “Ah, I see. Only what she has told you. The Magister, little boy angel, is more dangerous than you could ever imagine. And he has waited a long time for someone with Tessa’s ability. You might even say he is the one who caused her to be born—”

Her words were swallowed up in a colossal crash as the whole east wall of the room suddenly caved in. It was like the walls of Jericho tumbling down in Tessa’s old Bible stories picture book. One moment the wall was there, and the next it wasn’t; there was a huge gaping rectangular hole instead, steaming with choking swirls of plaster dust.

Mrs. Dark gave a thin scream and seized her skirts with her bony hands. Clearly she hadn’t expected the wall to collapse, any more than Tessa had.

Will caught hold of Tessa’s hand and pulled her toward him, blocking her with his body as chunks of stone and plaster rained down on them. As his arms went around her, she could hear Mrs. Black screaming.

Tessa twisted in Will’s grip, trying to see what was happening. Mrs. Dark stood, pointing with one gloved, trembling finger toward the dark hole in the wall. The dust was beginning to settle, barely—enough so that the figures moving toward them through the wreckage slowly began to take shape. The shadowy outlines of two human figures became visible; each was holding a blade, and each blade shone with the same blue-white light as Will’s. Angels, Tessa thought, wondering, but she didn’t say it. That light, so bright—what else could they be?

Mrs. Black gave a screech and lunged forward. She threw her hands out, and sparks shot from them like exploding fireworks. Tessa heard someone yell—a very human yell—and Will, releasing Tessa, spun and flung his bright-burning sword at Mrs. Black. It whipped through the air, end over end, and drove into her chest. Screaming and twisting, she staggered backward and fell, crashing down onto one of the horrible tables, which collapsed in a mess of blood and splintering wood.

Will grinned. It wasn’t a pleasant sort of grin. He turned to look at Tessa then. For a moment they stared at each other, silently, across the space that separated them—and then his other companions flooded in around him, two men in close-fitting dark coats, brandishing shining weapons, and moving so fast that Tessa’s vision blurred.

Tessa backed toward the far wall, trying to avoid the chaos in the center of the room, where Mrs. Dark, howling imprecations, was holding off her attackers with the burning sparks of energy that flew from her hands like fiery rain. Mrs. Black was writhing on the floor, sheets of black smoke rising from her body as if she were burning from the inside out.

Tessa moved toward the open door that led to the corridor—and strong hands seized her and yanked her backward. Tessa shrieked and twisted, but the hands circling her upper arms were as strong as iron. She turned her head to the side and sank her teeth into the hand gripping her left arm. Someone yelled and let go of her; spinning, she saw a tall man with a shock of untidy ginger hair staring at her with a reproachful expression, his bleeding left hand cradled against his chest. “Will!” he shouted. “Will, she bit me!”

“Did she, Henry?” Will, looking amused as usual, appeared like a summoned spirit from the chaos of smoke and flames. Behind him, Tessa could see the second of his companions, a muscular brown-haired young man, holding a struggling Mrs. Dark. Mrs. Black was a dark humped shape on the ground. Will raised an eyebrow in Tessa’s direction. “It’s bad form to bite,” he informed her. “Rude, you know. Hasn’t anyone ever told you that?”

“It’s also rude to go about grabbing at ladies you haven’t been introduced to,” Tessa said stiffly. “Hasn’t anyone told you that?”

The ginger-haired man whom Will had called Henry shook his bleeding hand with a rueful smile. He had a nice sort of face, Tessa thought; she almost felt guilty for having bitten him.

“Will! Look out!” the brown-haired man shouted. Will spun as something flew through the air, narrowly missed Henry’s head, and crashed into the wall behind Tessa. It was a large brass cog, and it hit the wall with such force that it stuck there like a marble wedged into a bit of pastry. Tessa whirled—and saw Mrs. Black advancing toward them, her eyes burning like coal in her crumpled white face. Black licks of flame sprayed up around the hilt of the sword that protruded from her chest.

“Damn—” Will reached for the hilt of another blade wedged through the belt at his waist. “I thought we’d put that thing down—”

Baring her teeth, Mrs. Black lunged. Will leaped out of the way, but Henry wasn’t quite as fast; she struck him and knocked him backward. Clinging on like a tick, she rode him to the ground, snarling, her claws sinking into his shoulders as he yelled. Will whirled, the blade now in his hand; raising it, he shouted “Uriel!” and it flared up suddenly in his grip like a blazing torch. Tessa fell back against the wall as he whipped the blade downward. Mrs. Black reared back, her claws out, reaching for him—