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The Wicked Ones (Ghosts of the Shadow Market Book 6), Page 3

Cassandra Clare

  “Or just here to cause havoc?” Dominique said, in French.

  Céline cursed, silently. She’d had one job, a humiliatingly easy one at that, and she’d still managed to fail. Stephen was nowhere in sight, and Robert was still rummaging through the warlock’s tent.

  “I was waiting for you to come back,” Céline said, loudly and in English, so Robert would be sure to hear. “Thank goodness you finally did. I’m melting in this heat.” She said that last part even louder. It was a prearranged signal, just in case. Translation: Get out, now. Hopefully she could keep the warlock distracted long enough that he could slip out unseen.

  Where was Stephen?

  “Bien sûr.” The warlock had a terrible accent, French by way of Southern California. Céline wondered if warlocks could surf. “And what is it you’re looking for, mademoiselle?”

  “A love potion.” It was the first thing that popped into her head. Maybe because she’d just spotted Stephen, hurrying toward them—while trying very much to look like he wasn’t hurrying. Céline wondered how Dominique had managed to give him the slip in the first place, and if she’d done so on purpose.

  “A love potion, eh?” The warlock followed her gaze and made an approving noise. “Not bad, though a little beefy for my taste. The better the body, the worse the mind, I always find. But maybe you prefer dumb and pretty. Chacun à son goût, eh?”

  “Um, oui, dumb and pretty, sure. So—” What was Robert doing back there, anyway? Céline hoped he’d managed to slip out without her seeing him, but she couldn’t take the risk. “Can you help me?”

  “Love is a little beyond my pay grade, chérie. Anyone around here who tells you different is lying. But I can offer you—”

  She fell silent as Stephen arrived, looking slightly harried. “Everything okay here?”

  He shot Céline a concerned look. Her heart pounded; he was worried about her. She nodded. “Totally fine. We were just—”

  “Your friend here wanted me to sell her a potion to make her fall in love with you,” the warlock said. Céline thought she might drop dead on the spot. “I was about to tell her I could only offer her the next best thing.” She pulled what looked like a can of hairspray from beneath the booth and sprayed a puff of it in Stephen’s face. His expression went slack.

  “What did you do?” Céline cried. “And why did you say that?”

  “Oh, relax. Trust me, in this state, he won’t care what anyone says. Watch.”

  Stephen was staring at Céline like he’d never seen her before. He reached out a hand and touched her cheek, gently, his expression wondering. He looked at her like he was thinking, Could you be real?

  “Turns out your little blond friend here has a nasty case of demon pox,” Dominique told Stephen. Céline decided she was not, in fact, going to drop dead; she was going to murder the warlock.

  “Demon pox is so sexy,” Stephen said. “Will there be warts?” He batted his eyes at Céline. “You would look beautiful with warts.”

  “See?” the warlock said. “I fixed him for you.”

  “What did you do?”

  “It’s not obvious? I did what you asked for. Well, it’s a cheap approximation of what you asked for, but what else is the Shadow Market for?”

  Céline didn’t know what to say. She was furious on Stephen’s behalf.

  On her own behalf, she was . . . something else. Something she should not have been.

  “Did anyone ever tell you that you’re beautiful when you’re confused?” Stephen gushed. He gave her a moony grin. “Of course, you’re also beautiful when you’re angry, and when you’re sad, and when you’re happy, and when you’re laughing, and when you’re . . .”


  “When you’re kissing me,” he said. “But that one’s just a theory. Do you want to test it out?”

  “Stephen, I’m not sure you really know—”

  Then he was kissing her.

  Stephen Herondale was kissing her.

  Stephen Herondale’s lips were on her lips, his hands were on her waist, caressing her back, cupping her cheeks. Stephen Herondale’s fingers were threading through her hair.

  Stephen Herondale was holding her tight, tighter, as if he wanted more of her than he could have, as if he wanted all of her.

  She tried to hold herself at a distance. This was not real, she reminded herself. This was not him. But it felt real. It felt like Stephen Herondale, warm in her arms, wanting her, and her resistance gave way.

  For one eternal moment, she was lost to bliss.

  “Enjoy it while you can. It’ll wear off in an hour or so.”

  Dominique du Froid’s voice yanked her back to reality—the reality in which Stephen was married to someone else. Céline forced herself to pull away. He let out a tiny whimper and looked like he was going to cry.

  “First taste is free. You want permanent, you have to pay,” the warlock said. “But I suppose I could give you the Shadowhunter discount.”

  Céline froze. “How did you know I was a Shadowhunter?”

  “With your grace and beauty, how could you be anything else?” Stephen said. Céline ignored him. Something was very wrong here. Her runes were covered; her clothing was convincingly mundane; her weapons were hidden. There was nothing to mark her true identity.

  “Or perhaps you’d like to buy two doses,” the warlock said. “One for this schmuck, and one for the schmuck behind the curtain. Not quite as handsome, of course, but those uptight ones can be a lot of fun once they let loose . . .”

  Céline’s hand crept toward her hidden dagger.

  “You look surprised, Céline,” the warlock said. “Did you honestly think I didn’t know you three stooges were watching me? Did you think I would just leave my booth without a security system? I guess loverboy’s not the only thing dumb but pretty around here.”

  “How do you know my name?”

  The warlock threw back her head and laughed. Her molars gleamed with gold. “Every Downworlder in Paris knows about poor Céline Montclaire, wandering the city like a murderous little Éponine. We all feel a little sorry for you.”

  Céline lived with a steady, secret simmer of rage, but now she felt it boiling over.

  “I mean, I can’t afford to have Shadowhunters poking around in my business, so I’m still going to have to take care of you, but I’ll feel sorry for you as you die.”

  Céline drew her dagger just as a flock of Halphas demons exploded from the tent. The winged beasts swooped toward her and Stephen, razor-sharp talons extended, beaks open to unleash an unearthly screech.

  “Demon pigeons!” Stephen shouted in disgust, his longsword in his hand. The blade flashed silver in the starlight as he sliced and slashed through thick, scaly wings.

  Céline danced and dodged two birdlike demons, fending them off with her dagger as she pulled out two seraph blades with her free hand. “Zuphlas,” she whispered. “Jophiel.” As the blades began to glow, she flung them in opposite directions. Each flew true, straight into a demon’s throat. Both Halphas demons exploded in a cloud of bloody feathers and ichor. Céline was already in motion, leaping through the warlock’s curtain. “Robert!” she cried.

  He was locked inside what looked like gigantic antique birdcage, its floor coated with Halphas feathers—as was he. He looked unharmed. And very unhappy.

  Céline broke through the lock as quickly as she could, and the two of them rejoined Stephen, who had managed to dispatch several of the demons, though a handful of them swooped off the ground to safety, looping and diving through the night sky. Dominique had opened a Portal and was about to leap through it. Robert seized her by the throat, then slammed the blunt end of his sword down on her head with a resounding thud. She dropped to the ground, out cold.

  “So much for stealth,” he said.

  “Céline, you’re wounded!” Stephen
said, sounding horrified.

  Céline realized a demonic beak had torn a chunk out of her calf. The blood was seeping through her jeans. She had barely felt it, but as the adrenaline of battle faded away, a sharp, stabbing pain took its place.

  Stephen already had his stele in his hand, eager to apply an iratze. “You’re even more beautiful when you’re bleeding,” he said.

  Céline shook her head and backed away. “I can do it myself.”

  “But it would be my honor to heal your perfect skin,” Stephen protested.

  “Did he get hit on the head?” Robert asked.

  Céline was too embarrassed to explain. Fortunately, the cawing of Halphas demons echoed in the distance, followed by a woman’s scream. “You two watch the warlock,” she said. “I’ll deal with the rest of the demons before they eat anyone.” She took off before Robert could ask any more questions.

  “I’ll miss you!” Stephen called after her. “You’re so cute when you’re bloodthirsty!”

  Nearly two hundred years before, the Shadowhunter Tobias Herondale had been convicted of cowardice. A crime punishable by death. The Law, in those days, was not just hard, it was merciless. Tobias went mad and took flight before he could be executed, so in his absence, the Clave meted his punishment out on his wife, Eva. Death to her. Death to the Herondale child she carried.

  This, at least, was the story.

  Many, many decades ago, Zachariah had learned the truth behind this tale. He had met the warlock who saved Eva’s child—and then, after the mother’s death, raised that child as her own.

  That child had sired a child, who had sired a child, and so forth: a secret line of Herondales, lost to the Shadowhunter world. Until now.

  The surviving member of this line was in grave danger. For a long time, that was all Brother Zachariah knew. For Tessa, for Will, he had dedicated himself to learning more. He had followed breadcrumbs, run headlong into dead ends, nearly died at the hand of a faerie who wanted the lost Herondale to stay that way. Or worse, Zachariah feared.

  The lost descendant of Tobias Herondale had fallen in love with a faerie. Their child—and all their children’s children—was part Shadowhunter, part fey.

  Which meant Zachariah wasn’t the only one seeking. He strongly suspected, however, he was the only seeker who meant no harm. If an emissary of Faerie was willing to attack not just a Shadowhunter, but a Silent Brother—willing to break the Accords in the most egregious of ways—simply to stop his search, then surely the search was imperative. Surely the danger was mortal.

  Decades of quiet inquiries had led here, to the Paris Shadow Market, to the man rumored to have in his possession a precious heron-shaped pendant, a Herondale heirloom. The man named Crow, who most assumed to be a mundane with the Sight, known as savvy but untrustworthy, a man all too satisfied by life in the shadows.

  Zachariah had learned of the pendant first—it was a Parisian warlock who’d heard about his search and contacted him with confirmation. She told him his suspicions were correct: the owner of the pendant, whatever he wanted to call himself, was a Herondale.

  Which, apparently, was old news to everyone but Zachariah himself.

  You’ve known about your heritage all this time? And yet you never revealed yourself?

  “Sweetheart, I think you can put down the crossbow,” Crow told the woman. “The psychic monk doesn’t seem like he means us any harm.”

  She lowered the weapon, though she didn’t look very happy about it.

  Thank you.

  “And maybe you should leave us alone to talk,” Crow added.

  “I don’t think that’s a good idea—”

  “Rosemary, trust me. I got this.”

  The woman, who must have been his wife, sighed. It was the sound of someone who understood stubbornness and had long ago given up trying to fight it. “Fine. But you—” She poked Brother Zachariah with the crossbow, hard enough he could feel it through his thick robes. “Anything happens to him, and I will hunt you down and make you pay.”

  I have no intention of letting anything happen to either of you. That’s why I’ve come.

  “Yeah, whatever.” She took Crow in her arms. The two embraced for a long moment. Zachariah had often heard the expression “holding on for dear life,” but rarely had he seen it enacted. The couple clung to each other like it was the only way to survive.

  He remembered loving someone like that. He remembered the impossibility of saying good-bye. The woman whispered something to Crow, then hoisted her crossbow and disappeared into the Paris night.

  “We’re newlyweds, and she’s a little overprotective,” Crow said. “You know how it is.”

  I’m afraid I do not.

  Crow looked him up and down, and Brother Zachariah wondered what this man saw. Whatever it was, he seemed unimpressed. “Yeah, I guess you wouldn’t.”

  I have been looking for you for a long time, longer than you can imagine.

  “Look, I’m sorry you wasted your time, but I don’t want anything to do with you people.”

  I fear you don’t realize the danger you’re in. I am not the only one looking for you—

  “But you’re the only one who can protect me, right? ‘Come with me if you want to live,’ and all that? Yeah, I’ve seen that movie. Not interested in living it.”

  He was plenty sure of himself, Brother Zachariah thought, and felt the strange urge to smile. Maybe there was a trace of the familiar here after all.

  “A man like me, he makes his fair share of enemies. I’ve been looking out for myself my whole life, and I don’t see any reason I—”

  Whatever he said next was drowned out by an unholy screeching. A giant birdlike demon swooped down, speared Crow’s coat with its razor-sharp beak, and lifted him into the air.

  Brother Zachariah seized one of the seraph blades he had brought along, just in case. Mebahiah, he named it, and flung it at the birdlike demon. The blade embedded in the feathered sternum, and the demon exploded midair. Crow tumbled several feet to the ground, landing in a noisy heap of feathers and ichor. Zachariah rushed over to help the man to his feet, but these efforts were rebuffed.

  Crow examined the large, ragged hole in his trench coat with disgust. “That was brand new!”

  It is indeed a very nice coat. Or . . . it was. Zachariah refrained from pointing out the good fortune that the Halphas demon hadn’t ripped a hole through anything more valuable. Like his rib cage.

  “So is that the danger you came to warn me about? Saving my new coat from a demon seagull?”

  It struck me as more of a demon pigeon.

  Crow brushed himself off. He darted several suspicious looks at the sky, as if expecting another attack. “Listen, Mr. . . .”

  Brother. Brother Zachariah.

  “Right, okay, bro, I can see that a guy like you could come in handy in a fight. And if you’re that determined to protect me from some big, scary danger, I guess I won’t fight you on it.”

  Brother Zachariah was surprised by the sudden change of heart. Perhaps nearly getting pecked to death by a demon pigeon sometimes had that effect on people.

  I’d like to take you somewhere safe.

  “Sure. Fine. Give me a few hours to tie up some loose ends, and Rosemary and I will meet you on the Pont des Arts at dawn. We’ll do whatever you want. Promise.”

  I can accompany you, as you tie these ends.

  “Listen, brother, the kinds of ends I’m talking about, they don’t take kindly to Shadowhunters poking around in their business. If you catch my drift.”

  Your drift sounds mildly criminal.

  “You want to make a citizen’s arrest?”

  I am concerned only with your safety.

  “I made it twenty-two years without your help. I think I can make it another six hours, don’t you?”

  Brother Zachariah had
invested decades into this search. It seemed wildly unwise to let this man slip away, with only a promise that he would return. Especially given what he’d learned about the man’s reputation. It didn’t exactly inspire confidence in his word.

  “Look, I know what you’re thinking, and I know I can’t stop you from following me. So I’m just asking you flat out: You want me to trust you? Then you try trusting me. And I’m swearing, on whatever you need me to, that your precious lost Shadowhunter will be on that bridge waiting for you at dawn.”

  Against his better judgment, Brother Zachariah nodded.


  Céline had no taste for torture. Not that this was what they would call it, whatever they did to the warlock to get her to talk. Valentine had taught his Circle to be careful with their words. Robert and Stephen would “interrogate” Dominique du Froid, using whatever methods they deemed requisite. When they got the answers they needed—names of her Shadowhunter contacts, details of crimes committed—they would deliver her and an inventory of her sins to Valentine.

  The warlock was bound to a folding chair in the cheap flat they were using as a home base.

  The warlock was unconscious, blood trickling from the shallow wound on her forehead.

  This was how Robert and Stephen referred to her, not by name but as the warlock, as if she were more thing than person.

  Valentine had wanted them to conduct this investigation without alerting the warlock to their presence. It was only midnight on their first day in Paris, and they’d already screwed everything up. “If we bring him some answers, he can’t be too mad,” Stephen said. It sounded more like wish than prediction.

  Stephen had stopped commenting on the gamine beauty of Céline’s legs and the addictive qualities of her porcelain skin. He claimed not to remember the effects of the warlock’s potion, but his glance strayed to Céline every time he thought she wasn’t looking. She couldn’t help wondering.