Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1)(9)


by Cassandra Clare

Tessa felt her cheeks flame and was amazed, under the circumstances, that she still had the capacity to be embarrassed. Should she tell him the truth? Was it at all possible that he was the Magister? Though anyone who looked like that wouldn’t need to tie girls up and imprison them in order to get them to marry him.

“Here. Hold this.” He handed her the glowing stone. Tessa took it, half-expecting it to burn her fingers, but it was cool to the touch. The moment it struck her palm, its light dimmed to a shimmering flicker. She looked toward him in dismay, but he had made his way to the window and was looking out, seemingly unconcerned. “Pity we’re on the third floor. I could manage the jump, but it would probably kill you. No, we must go through the door and take our chances in the house.”

“Go through the— What?” Tessa, feeling mired in a semi-permanent state of confusion, shook her head. “I don’t understand.”

“How can you not understand?” He pointed at her books. “You read novels. Obviously, I’m here to rescue you. Don’t I look like Sir Galahad?” He raised his arms dramatically. “‘My strength is as the strength of ten, Because my heart is pure—’”

Something echoed, far away inside the house—the sound of a door slamming.

Will said a word Sir Galahad would never have said, and sprang away from the window. He landed with a wince, and glanced ruefully down at his injured hand. “I’ll need to take care of this later. Come along …” He looked at her pointedly, a question in his eyes.

“Miss Gray,” she said faintly. “Miss Theresa Gray.”

“Miss Gray,” he repeated. “Come along, then, Miss Gray.” He sprang past her, moved toward the door, found the knob, turned it, yanked—

Nothing happened.

“It won’t work,” she said. “The door cannot be opened from the inside.”

Will grinned ferociously. “Can’t it?” He reached for his belt, for one of the objects that hung on it. He chose what looked like a long, slender twig, picked clean of smaller branches, and made of a whitish-silver material. He placed the end of it against the door and drew. Thick black lines spiraled out from the tip of the flexible cylinder, making an audible hissing noise as they spread across the wooden surface like a directed spill of ink.

“You’re drawing?” Tessa demanded. “I don’t really see how that can possibly—”

There was a noise like cracking glass. The doorknob, untouched, spun—fast, then faster, and the door sprang open, a faint puff of smoke rising from the hinges.

“Now you do,” Will said, and, pocketing the strange object, gestured for Tessa to follow him. “Let’s go.”

Inexplicably, she hesitated, looking back toward the room that had been her prison for nearly two months. “My books—”

“I’ll get you more books.” He urged her into the corridor ahead of him, and pulled the door shut behind them. After catching hold of her wrist, he drew her down the hallway and around a corner. Here were the stairs that she had descended so many times with Miranda. Will took them two at a time, pulling her after him.

From above them Tessa heard a scream. It was unmistakably Mrs. Dark’s.

“They’ve found you missing,” Will said. They had reached the first landing, and Tessa slowed her pace—only to be jerked ahead by Will, who seemed disinclined to stop.

“Aren’t we going out the front door?” she demanded.

“We can’t. The building’s surrounded. There’s a line of carriages pulled up out front. I appear to have arrived at an unexpectedly exciting time.” He started down the stairs again, and Tessa followed. “Do you know what the Dark Sisters had planned for this evening?”

“No.”

“But you were expecting someone called the Magister?” They were in the cellar now, where the plaster walls gave way suddenly to damp stone. Without Miranda’s lantern it was quite dark. Heat rose to meet them like a wave. “By the Angel, it’s like the ninth circle of Hell down here—”

“The ninth circle of Hell is cold,” Tessa said automatically.

Will stared at her. “What?”

“In the Inferno,” she told him. “Hell is cold. It’s covered in ice.”

He stared at her for another long moment, the corners of his mouth twitching, then held out his hand. “Give me the witchlight.” At her blank expression he made an impatient noise. “The stone. Give me the stone.”

The moment his hand closed about the stone, light blazed up from it again, raying out through his fingers. For the first time Tessa saw that he had a design on the back of his hand, drawn there as if in black ink. It looked like an open eye. “As for the temperature of Hell, Miss Gray,” he said, “let me give you a piece of advice. The handsome young fellow who’s trying to rescue you from a hideous fate is never wrong. Not even if he says the sky is purple and made of hedgehogs.”

He really is mad, Tessa thought, but didn’t say so; she was too alarmed by the fact that he had started toward the wide double doors of the Dark Sisters’ chambers.

“No!” She caught at his arm, pulling him back. “Not that way. There’s no way out. It’s a dead end.”

“Correcting me again, I see.” Will turned and strode the other way, toward the shadowy corridor Tessa had always feared. Swallowing hard, she followed him.

The corridor narrowed as they went along it, the walls pressing in on either side. The heat was even more intense here, making Tessa’s hair spring into curls and paste itself to her temples and neck. The air felt thick and was hard to breathe. For a while they walked in silence, until Tessa could stand it no longer. She had to ask, even though she knew the answer would be no.

“Mr. Herondale,” she said, “did my brother send you to find me?”

She half-feared he’d make some mad comment in response, but he simply looked at her curiously. “Never heard of your brother,” he said, and she felt the dull ache of disappointment gnaw at her heart. She’d known Nate couldn’t have sent him—he’d have known her name, then, wouldn’t he?—but it still hurt. “And outside of the past ten minutes, Miss Gray, I’d never heard of you, either. I’ve been following the trail of a dead girl for near on two months. She was murdered, left in an alley to bleed to death. She’d been running from … something.” The corridor had reached a forking point, and after a pause Will headed to the left. “There was a dagger beside her, covered in her blood. It had a symbol on it. Two snakes, swallowing each other’s tails.”