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The Fall of the Hotel Dumort, Page 2

Cassandra Clare

  "All right," Lincoln said. "Looks like everyone is here. And we have a guest. Many of you know Magnus Bane. He's a warlock, as you see, and a friend to this pack."

  This was accepted at once, and there were nods and greetings all around. Magnus leaned against a file cabinet near the back to watch the proceedings.

  "Greg," Lincoln said, "you're the last in. Anything?"

  "Nope. My patch was clean."

  "Good. But unfortunately, there was an incident. Elliot? Want to explain?"

  Another werewolf stepped forward.

  "We found a body," he said. "In midtown, near Le Jardin. Definitely a vampire attack. Clear marking on the neck. We slit the throat so the puncture marks were hidden."

  There was a general groan around the room.

  "That will keep the words 'vampire killer' out of the papers for a while," Lincoln said. "But clearly things have gotten worse, and now someone is dead."

  Magnus heard various remarks in low voices about vampires, and some in louder voices. All of the remarks contained profanity.

  "Okay." Lincoln put his hands up and silenced the general sounds of dismay. "Magnus, what do you think about this?"

  "I don't know," Magnus said. "I only just got back."

  "Ever seen anything like this? Mass, random attacks?"

  All heads turned in his direction. He steadied himself against the file cabinet. He wasn't quite ready to give a presentation on the ways of vampires at this hour of the morning.

  "I've seen bad behavior," Magnus said. "It really depends. I've been in places where there was no police force and no Shadowhunters nearby, so sometimes it can get out of hand. But I've never seen anything like it here, or in any developed area. Especially not near an Institute."

  "We need to take care of this," a voice called out.

  Various voices of assent echoed around the room.

  "Let's talk outside," Lincoln said to Magnus.

  He nodded at the door, and the werewolves parted so that Magnus could pass. Lincoln and Magnus got some burned coffee at the corner deli and sat on a stoop in front of an acupuncturist's shop.

  "Something's wrong with them," Lincoln said. "Whatever it is, it hit fast, and it hit hard. If we have diseased vampires around causing this kind of bloodshed . . . eventually we'll have to act, Magnus. We can't let it go on. We can't let murders happen, and we can't run the risk of bringing the Shadowhunters down here. We can't have problems like that starting up again. It will end badly for all of us."

  Magnus examined the crack in the step below. "Have you contacted the Praetor Lupus?" he asked.

  "Of course. But we can't identify who is doing this. It doesn't seem like the work of one rogue fledgling. This is multiple attacks in multiple locations. The only luck for us is that all of the victims have been on various substances, so they can't articulate what happened to them. If one of them says vampire, the police will think it's because they're high. But eventually the story will take shape. The press will get wind of it, and the Shadowhunters will get wind of it, and the whole thing will escalate rapidly."

  Lincoln was right. If this went on, the werewolves would be well within their rights to act. And then there would be blood.

  "You know Camille," Lincoln said. "You could talk to her."

  "I knew Camille. You probably know her better than I do at this point."

  "I don't know how to talk to Camille. She's a difficult person to communicate with. I would have spoken to her already if I knew how. And our relationship isn't quite the same as the relationship you had."

  "We don't really get along," Magnus said. "We haven't spoken for several decades."

  "But everyone knows that you two were . . ."

  "That was a long time ago. A hundred years ago, Lincoln."

  "For you two does that kind of time even matter?"

  "What would you want me to say to her? It's hard to walk in after that long a time and just say, 'Stop attacking people. Also, how have you been since the turn of the century?'"

  "If there's something wrong, maybe you could help them. If they're just overfeeding, then they need to know that we're prepared to act. And if you care for her, which I think you do, she deserves this warning. It would be for the good of us all."

  He put his hand on Magnus's shoulder.

  "Please," Lincoln said. "It's possible we can still fix this. Because if this goes on, we'll all suffer."

  Magnus had many exes. They were strewn throughout history. Most of them were memories, long dead. Some were now very old. Etta, one of his last loves, was now in a nursing home and no longer recognized him. It had become too painful to visit her.

  Camille Belcourt was different. She'd come into Magnus's life under the light of a gas lamp, looking regal. That had been in London, and it had been a different world. Their romance had happened in fog. It had happened in carriages bumping along cobbled streets, on settees covered in damson-colored silk. They'd loved in the time of the clockwork creatures, before the mundane wars. There seemed to be more time then, time to fill, time to spend. And they'd filled it. And they'd spent it.

  They had parted badly. When you love someone that intensely and they do not love you in the same way, it is impossible to part well.

  Camille had arrived in New York at the end of the 1920s, just as the Crash had been happening and everything had been falling apart. She had a great sense of drama, and a good nose for places that were in crisis and in need of a guiding hand. In no time at all she'd become the head of the vampires. She had a place inside the famous Eldorado building on the Upper West Side. Magnus knew where she was, and she knew where Magnus was. But neither of them contacted the other. They had passed each other, purely by accident, at various clubs and events over the years. They'd exchanged only a quick nod. That relationship was over. It was a live wire, not to be touched. It was the one temptation in life Magnus knew to leave alone.

  And yet here he was, just twenty-four hours back in New York, stepping into the Eldorado. This was one of New York's great art deco apartment buildings. It sat right on the west side of Central Park, overlooking the reservoir. It was notable for its two matching square towers jutting up like horns. The Eldorado was the home of the old money, the celebrities, the people who simply had. The uniformed doorman was trained not to take notice of anyone's attire or mien as long as they looked like they had come to the building for a legitimate reason. For the occasion Magnus had decided to skip his new look. There would be no punk here--no vinyl or fishnet. Tonight was a Halston suit, black, with wide satin lapels. This passed the test, and he got a nod and a light smile. Camille lived on the twenty-eighth floor of the north tower, a silent oak-paneled and brass-railed elevator ride up into some of the most expensive real estate in Manhattan.

  The towers made for some very small, very intimate floors. Some had only one or two inhabitants. There were two in this case. Camille lived in 28C. Magnus could hear music seeping out from under the door. There was a strong smell of smoke and the leftover perfume of whoever had just passed this way. Despite the fact that there was activity inside, it took about three minutes of knocking before someone answered.

  He was surprised to find that he recognized this person at once. It was a face from long ago. At the time the woman had had a little black bob and had worn a flapper dress. She'd been young then, and while she had retained the basic youth (vampires didn't really age), she looked world-worn. Now her hair was bleached blond and formed into heavy, long curls. She wore a skin-tight gold dress that skimmed her knees, and a cigarette dangled from the side of her mouth.

  "Well, well, well. It's everyone's favorite warlock! I haven't seen you since you were running that speakeasy. It's been a long time."

  "It has," Magnus said. "Daisy?"

  "Dolly." She pushed the door open wider. "Look who it is, everyone!"

  The room was full of vampires, all of whom were dressed extremely well. Magnus had to give them that. The men wore the white suits that were so popular this season
. The women all had fantastic disco dresses, mostly in white or gold. The mix of hair spray, cigarette smoke, incense, and colognes and perfumes took his breath away for a moment.

  Aside from the strong smells, there was a tension in the air that had no real basis. Magnus was no stranger to vampires, yet this group was uptight, looking to one another. Shifting around. Waiting for something.

  There was no invitation to enter.

  "Is Camille in?" Magnus finally asked.

  Dolly cocked a hip against the door.

  "What brings you here tonight, Magnus?"

  "I've just gotten back from an extended vacation. It just felt right to pay a visit."

  "Did it?"

  In the background someone turned down the record player until the music was barely audible.

  "Someone go talk to Camille," Dolly said without turning around. She remained where she was, blocking the doorway with her tiny body. She closed the door a bit to reduce the space she had to fill. She continued smiling up at Magnus in a way that was a bit unnerving.

  "Just a minute," she said.

  In the background someone moved into the hallway.

  "What's this?" Dolly said, plucking something from Magnus's pocket. "Electrica? I've never heard of this club."

  "It's new. They claim to be better than Studio 54. I've never been to either, so I don't know. Someone gave me the passes."

  Magnus had stuck the passes into his pocket as he'd been walking out the door. After all, he had gone to the effort of dressing up. Should this errand end as badly as he thought it would, it would be nice to have somewhere to go afterward.

  Dolly twisted the passes into a fan and waved it lightly in front of her face.

  "Take them," Magnus said. It was evident that Dolly had already taken them and was not giving them back, so it seemed polite to make it official.

  The vampire emerged from the hallway and conferred with some others on the sofa and around the room. Then a different vampire came over to the door. Dolly stepped behind the door for a moment, closing it farther. Magnus heard a mumbling. Then the door opened again, wide enough to admit him.

  "It's your lucky night," she said. "This way."

  The white wall-to-wall carpet was so shaggy and thick that Dolly wobbled on her high heels as she traversed it. The carpet had stains all over it--spilled drinks, ash, and puddles of things he supposed were blood. The white sofas and chairs were in similar condition. The many large plants and potted palms and fronds were all dry and sagging. Several pictures on the walls were askew. There were bottles and empty glasses with dried-up wine at the bottom everywhere. It was the same kind of disarray Magnus had found in his apartment.

  More disturbing was the silence from all the vampires in the room who watched him being led along by Dolly to the hallway. And then there was the sofa full of unmoving humans--subjugates, no doubt, all dazed and slumped, their mouths hanging open, the bruises and wounds on their necks and arms and hands looking quite ugly. The glass table in front of them had a fine coating of white powder and a few razor blades. The only noise was the muted music and a low rumble of thunder outside.

  "This way," Dolly said, taking Magnus by the sleeve.

  The hall was dark, and there were clothes and shoes all over the floor. Muffled noises came from the three doors along the hall. Dolly walked right to the end, to a double door. She rapped on this once and pushed it open.

  "Go ahead," she said, still smiling her weird little smile.

  In stark contrast to the whiteness of everything in the living room, this room was the dark side of the apartment. The carpet was an indigo black, like a nighttime sea. The walls were covered in deep silver wallpaper. The lamp shades were all covered by gold and silver shawls and throws. The tables were all mirrored, reflecting the view back and forth again. And in the middle of it all was a massive black lacquer bed with black sheets and a heavy gold cover. And on it was Camille, in a peach silk kimono.

  And a hundred years seemed to vanish. Magnus felt himself unable to speak for a moment. It might as well have been London again, the whole twentieth century rolled up into a ball and tossed aside.

  But then the present moment came crashing back when Camille began an ungainly crawl in his direction, slipping on the satin sheets.

  "Magnus! Magnus! Magnus! Come here! Come! Sit down!"

  Her silver-blond hair was long and down, looking wild. She patted the end of the bed. This was not the greeting he'd been expecting. This was not the Camille he remembered, or even the one he had seen in passing.

  As he made to step over what he thought was a lump of clothing, he realized there was a human on the floor, facedown. He bent down and gently reached into the mass of long black hair to turn the person's face upward. It was a woman, and there was still some warmth in her, and a faint pulse beating in her neck.

  "That's Sarah," Camille said, flopping onto the bed and hanging her head off the end to watch.

  "You've been feeding from her," Magnus said. "Is she a willing donor?"

  "Oh, she loves it. Now, Magnus . . . You look marvelous, by the way. Is that Halston? . . . We're just about to go out. And you are coming with us."

  She slid from the bed and tripped her way into a massive closet. Magnus heard hangers being scraped along rails. Magnus examined the girl on the floor again. She had punctures all over her neck--and now she was smiling weakly at Magnus and pushing back her hair, offering him a bite.

  "I'm not a vampire," he said, resting her head gently on the floor again. "And you should get out of here. Do you want my help?"

  The girl made a sound that was just between a laugh and a whimper.

  "Which one of these?" Camille said as she came stumbling back out of the closet, holding two almost identical black evening dresses.

  "This girl is weak," he said. "Camille, you've taken too much blood from her. She needs a hospital."

  "She's fine. Leave her alone. Help me pick a dress."

  Everything about this exchange was wrong. This was not how the reunion should have gone. It should have been coy; it should have had many strange pauses and moments of double meaning. Instead Camille was acting like she'd just seen Magnus yesterday. Like they were simply friends. It was enough of an entry to allow him to get to the point.

  "I'm here because there's a problem, Camille. Your vampires are killing people and leaving bodies on the street. They're overfeeding."

  "Oh, Magnus." Camille shook her head. "I may be in charge, but I don't control them. You have to allow for a certain amount of freedom."

  "This includes killing mundanes and leaving their bodies out on the sidewalk?"

  Camille was no longer listening. She had dropped the dresses onto the bed and was picking though a pile of earrings. Meanwhile Sarah was attempting to crawl in Camille's direction. Without even looking at her, Camille set a mirror full of white powder down on the floor. Sarah went right for it and began sniffing it up.

  And then Magnus understood.

  While human drugs didn't quite work on Downworlders, there was no telling what would happen when that drug was run through a human circulatory system and then ingested through the human blood.

  It all made sense. The disarray. The confused behavior. The frenzied feeding in the clubs. The fact that they all looked so ill, that their personalities seemed to have changed. He'd seen this a thousand times in mundanes.

  Camille was looking at him now, her gaze unwavering.

  "Come out with us tonight, Magnus," she cooed. "You are a man who knows a good time. I am a woman who provides a good time. Come out with us."

  "Camille, you have to stop. You have to know how dangerous this is."

  "It's not going to kill me, Magnus. That's quite impossible. And you don't understand how it feels."

  "The drug can't kill you, but other things can. If you continue like this, you know there are people out there who can't let you go on murdering mundanes. Someone will act."

  "Let them try," she said. "I could take o
n ten Shadowhunters once I've had some of this."

  "It may not be--"

  Camille dropped to the floor before he could finish and buried her face into Sarah's neck. Sarah flailed once and groaned, then became silent and motionless. He heard the sickening sound of the drinking, the sucking. Camille lifted her head, blood all around her mouth, running down her chin.

  "Are you coming or not?" she said. "I would simply love to take you to Studio 54. You've never had a night out like one of our nights out."

  Magnus had to force himself to keep looking at her like this.

  "Let me help you. A few hours, a few days--I could get this out of your system."

  Camille dragged the back of her hand across her mouth, smearing the blood onto her cheek.

  "If you're not coming along, then stay out of our way. Consider this a polite warning, Magnus. Dolly!"

  Dolly was already at the door. "Think you're done here," she said.

  Magnus watched Camille sink her teeth into Sarah again.

  "Yes," he said. "I think I am."

  Outside, a downpour was in progress. The doorman held an umbrella over Magnus's head and hailed him a cab. The incongruity of the civility downstairs and what he'd seen upstairs was . . .

  It wasn't to be thought about. Magnus got into the cab, gave his destination, and closed his eyes. The rain drummed onto the cab. It felt like the rain was beating directly onto his brain.

  Magnus wasn't surprised to find Lincoln sitting on the steps by his door. Wearily he waved him inside.

  "Well?" Lincoln said.

  "It's not good," Magnus replied, pulling off his wet jacket. "It's the drugs. They're feeding on the blood of people who are taking drugs. It must be escalating their need and lowering their impulse control."

  "You're right," Lincoln said. "That isn't good. I thought it might have something to do with the drugs, but I thought they were immune to things like addiction."

  Magnus poured them each a glass of wine, and they sat and listened to the rain for a moment.

  "Can you help her?" Lincoln asked.

  "If she lets me. But you can't cure an addict who doesn't want to be cured."