A little while ago …
In a dimension pretty close to here, just down the road, really, lived a race of ruthless beings known as Shadowhunters. Sometimes, they were called Children of the Nephilim, but mostly Shadowhunters.
The evil leaders of the Shadowhunters, having foolishly lost their most precious possession in the course of a domestic dispute that inexplicably decided the turn of an entire civil war some 15 or 18 years prior, have received a prophecy that the aforementioned possession has found its way into the hands of the ruling family of their
peace pleas-loving neighbor, the kingdom of Edom.
The Shadowhunters have devised a convoluted plan to extort their precious mundane implement: the A-Cup.
Today is Prince Magnus’s wedding day. Unbeknownst to the prince, but knownst to us, danger lurks at an undisclosed location nearby.
If you’re still reading this, Godspeed and good luck.
An aggressively shiny black SUV barrels through a red-light at a nondescript New York City intersection and screeches to a halt at the curb in the only parking spot for miles. It is a handicapped spot. A tall, athletic woman in a black power suit and with long dark hair cemented into a ruthless French twist jumps out of the driver seat. Her stiletto heels crack the ground on impact, leaving behind spiderweb shaped scars in the black-top.
She walks around her over-sized vehicle, pushing the button for the trunk on her key-fob. The hatch opens smoothly before she gets to the back. The woman retrieves a large cardboard box with one arm and slams the hatch shut with her other hand.
The non-handicapped vanity plate says M’Lady, and a big sticker below the rear window reads: We break noses and accept the consequences.
The woman walks up a skinny gravel path to a dilapidated cathedral and makes an inhuman hissing noise at a drunk homeless person sprawled across the stone steps at the entrance.
“Get out of here,” she says coldly. “Didn’t you see the sign?”
Her pointy forefinger stabs toward an overlarge sign mounted beside the entrance doors.
SECRET SHADOWHUNTER LOCATION UNDER GLAMOUR. NO LOITERING, SOLICITING, SKATEBOARDING, VANDALIZING, BUMMING, SLUMMING, SQUATTING, VOMITING, DRUNK HOOK-UPS, OR RIDESHARE PICK-UPS.
The homeless person counters her pointed forefinger with an extended middle-finger that looks like it’s been half-eaten by a sewer rat before he shuffles off into the bright and sunny day.
She makes another disgruntled noise and steps through the ramshackle wooden door into a spit-shined marble entryway.
At the bottom of the long hallway waits the chasm of the Shadowhunter Ops center, a cavernous space filled with shiny chrome, glass, flat screen monitors, and a fancy 3-D schematics table that is completely unnecessary for 90% of what they do but looks wicked impressive to people who don’t know they’re being bamboozled.
A tall young man with blond curls and a soft face skitters the instant the woman’s first step makes painful contact with the black and white floor tiles. He rushes up to the 3-D table and the man in front of it.
“Mr. Lightwood!” the blond man shouts shakily.
Mr. Lightwood is a short, stout man in his forties, with thin black hair, a growing bald patch, and a full beard that somehow makes him look less manly, even though he’s wearing his power suit complete with a red power tie.
“What is it, Underhill?” he barks.
“You told me to let you know the moment your ex-wife was coming, sir?”
The woman drops the cardboard box in her arm onto the 3-D table with a heavy, rattling thump.
“She’s here, sir,” Underhill reports with a chagrined smile.
“You really are…” Robert Lightwood flares his hairy nostrils. “Dismissed.”
As Underhill makes a beeline for anywhere-but-here, Robert turns to his ex-wife with an expression somewhere between professionally polite and openly passive-aggressive.
“Maryse,” he says. “I would ask how you are, but the question would be wasted.”
Maryse Lightwood raises a perfectly groomed dark eyebrow and purses her plum-red lips.
“Are the preparations in place?” she asks.
“Good, I will fire message Idris and inform High Inquisitor Herondale immediately.”
Underhill pokes his head out from behind one of the many inconveniently located pillars throughout the main ops center.
“I already sent report to her, ma’am,” he says cheerily. “She knows everything.”
“What?” Maryse turns on her heel, drilling its stiletto tip a quarter inch deep into the stone. “You went over my head?”
Underhill loses all color in his face as he raises his hands in defense. “No, not. Never. I just. Maybe, a little around it? It will never happen again. I promise!”
“Ichor duty!” She screeches. “For a month!”
“No.” Underhill’s bottom lip begins to wobble as his eyes fill with tears. “Please, ma’am. Have mercy.”
“With your TOOTHBRUSH!”
As Underhill flees, crying inconsolably, Maryse sniffs and turns back to business at hand.
“Now,” she says. “Show me what you’ve prepared.”
“Right,” Robert says, turning to the 3-D table. “Here it is.”
He rubs his fingertips across a corner of the table surface. A three-dimensional blue outline of a church, much like the one they’re standing in at the moment, rises in front of them. There are tiny trees around it, a few cars and pedestrians going by on the street outside. A large part of the rendering is obstructed by the box Maryse had placed there earlier.
“Would you mind?” Robert motions at the box.
“Oh,” she says coldly. “That’s yours.”
“Some of your things,” she clarifies. “I went through my property in Idris and I found them. I thought you might want them back.”
“Thank you,” Robert says stiffly.
Maryse pushes the box through the 3-D image, sending tiny cars and pedestrians scattering out of the way and knocking down the match-box sized tombstones in the cemetery outside the church.
Robert picks up the box. It rattles like it’s full of broken things. He places it on the floor below the table.
“So, here’s the plan. When Prince Magnus and his newly-wedded wife come out of the front entrance of the church…”
Richard Wagner’s Bridal Chorus plays loudly, the opulent organ music filling the high curved ceilings in the bow of the church. The bride floats down the aisle in a cloud of white silk and taffeta that makes it quite difficult to distinguish the actual person trapped inside it all.
At the altar, Magnus Bane is waiting, resplendent in a bespoke maroon suit tailored to flatter every curve and angle of his body. His black hair is immaculately styled and enhanced with matching highlights. His nails have been buffed to a blinding shine and lacquered with the most exquisite nail polish available in this dimension.
As he looks down the long, long, long, long red carpet centered between the pews filled with demons, and warlocks, and vampires (oh my), a thought occurs to him.
“Do I really have to do this, father?”
Beside him, Asmodeus, Prince of Hell, Fallen Angel, Ruler of Edom, Major Pain in the Ass of Lilith, raises a supercilious slim black brow and narrows his already narrow slanted eyes even further.
“You are a prince. She’s a Queen B. I want to piss of Lilith, so, yes, you have to do this.”
On his other side, Magnus Bane’s best man grasps his shoulder with a firm hand to steady him.
“You’ll be fine.”
Magnus looks into the sincere dark brown eyes, feels pride swell in his chest at the beautiful eyebrows he helped create, and expels a long-suffering breath. He couldn’t do this without his most trusted friend.
“Thank you, Raphael.”
“If she gets too annoying, you can always banish her to Limbo.”
The priest clears his throat with a disapproving glare.
“Oh, shit. She’s almost here.”
The last notes of the song fade out as the bride reaches the altar and steps up beside Magnus. Magnus takes a fortifying breath and spends the next few seconds struggling to remove the inordinate amount of white tulle obscuring the bride’s face.
Camille Belcourt smiles beatifically. Her lips are smeared with blood and her vampire fangs stick out over her bottom lip. She hiccups and barely covers an uncouth burp with a delicate pale hand.
“Sorry,” she apologizes with a giggle. “I get hungry when I’m nervous.” She leans closer and lowers her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “You didn’t like your cousin, right? Rufus something-or-other?”
Magnus feels his stomach revolt as he gets a whiff of her breath.
“Urgh,” he says.
“Yeah,” Camille says with a snicker. “He tasted gross.”
The priest clears his throat even louder than before, glaring at them both.
“Dearly beloved!” he bellows. “We have gathered here today, to witness our beloved Prince Magnus, son of Asmodeus, Prince of Hell, Fallen Angel, Ruler of Edom …”
It’s too much. Before he can doubt himself, Magnus Bane grabs Raphael’s hand and starts to run.
“… going right past the altar, down the steps, and out the back door!”
“Stop him!” Asmodeus barks. “Someone!”
Magnus doesn’t wait to see if anyone will obey his father’s order. He drags Raphael around the corner into the small adjoining cemetery, creates a shimmering purple portal, and absconds to a place no-one will think to look for them.
Heavy, thumping club music pounds across the wet, dirty New York City street late at night, even though we were just outside a church on a sunny afternoon…
(Eh, who cares? There’s a thrilling story to tell and hot people to get together. Never mind the chaotic timeline.)
(Right. Where was I?)
Heavy thumping club music pounds across the wet, dirty New York City street in front of a popular venue. A brightly glowing neon sign high on the wall of the building says PANDEMONIUM.
The long line of people waiting to get into the club goes all the way back around the block where a beat-up old RV is parked illegally in a back alley. The RV is covered in graffiti, mostly nonsensical bright colors and meaningless stuff. In the middle of it all is a symbol that looks like a diamond with a pair of goat horns sprouting from the top point.
The RV is rocking side-to-side on squeaky shocks. The rocking gets more vigorous as the seconds drag on. People close by who are waiting in line for Pandemonium start to snicker and point at the vehicle. It’s really quite obvious what’s going on inside. It helps that there is a window cracked open in the back, allowing sound to travel out.
“Clary!” a strained male voice grunts with obvious effort.
“Simon!” a high-pitched female voice shrieks in surprise.
“Clary!” He grunts harder.
“Simon!” She squeals.
“Both of you!” a second male voice booms, deep and resonant, and impatient. “Stop messing around and just shove it in already!”
Inside the RV, Clary and Simon are struggling to push a very large, very heavy amplifier onto an inconveniently high shelf. The musical equipment nearly squashes both of them before they manage to push it into place and secure it with a few ties.
Clary whirls around, long red braid swinging dangerously close past Simon’s bespectacled nose, to glare at their useless companion sprawling in the pilot seat with his long legs up on the dashboard.
“You could have helped, Alec!” she snaps.
Alec makes a dismissive noise through his teeth. “You need the workout more than I do. I put in three hours at the gym every day. The heaviest thing I’ve seen you lift lately was a pair of buckle boots at Hot Topic.”
“I’m a girl!” Clary stresses the words and makes a circling motion in front of her boobs as if Alec is unfamiliar with the concept. “I don’t need washboard abs. I need to look cute so stupid managers will book us because they think I’ll show my gratitude with nookie. You two need muscle, so you can get me out of there before they try to force it when I don’t.”
Alec rolls his eyes. “You talk like we’ve never booked a gig because we’re good.”
Clary rolls her eyes harder. “You know that good’s got nothing to do with it.”
Simon pushes his thick, black framed glasses further up his nose and shoves his hands into the pockets of his worn jeans. The logo on his gray T-shirt says SUPER NERD in bright yellow letters in the Star Wars font.
“She has a point,” he rambles nervously. “I mean, if good had anything to do with it, you wouldn’t have had to make a deal with—”
“Don’t say it!” Alec and Clary shriek at the same time, but it’s too late.
“The Seelie Queen,” Simon finishes before he snaps his mouth shut and hangs his head in shame. “I’m so sorry, guys.”
In the uncannily spacious aisle that runs the length of the RV, two new people stand in a previously empty spot on the dirty carpet.
A wiry man dressed in a leaf-green suit with olive-tan skin, wavy black locks, and a crooked nose stands beside a girl who looks about fourteen: pouty, sullen, compiled in a mish-mash of Goth, punk, skater, and preppy clothes, hair, and make-up like she’s not sure which one she hates the most.
“Have you got my sword?” the teenage Seelie Queen drawls in a wobbly fake British accent.
“I’m sorry, your highness.” Clary bows deeply and smashes her arm into Simon’s stomach to make him do the same. “We called you by accident.”
Alec wisely removes his long legs from the dash and tries to hide, unsuccessfully, behind the curtain that partitions the front from the living area.
The Seelie Queen narrows her eyes. “This is the last time.”
“Yes, of course, your majesty,” Clary simpers. “Our apologies. It won’t happen again.”
“No,” the Seelie Queen says sharply and looks up at her companion. “Tell them, Meliorn.”
“You have run out of favors. The Queen wants the Soul Sword and she wants it now. You have until this time tomorrow.”
“But that’s unfair!” Clary blurts.
“Unfair to you, maybe.” Meliorn shrugs nonchalantly before his face takes on a dark and murderous look. “Bring us the Soul Sword by sundown tomorrow. Otherwise,” he drawls with a menacing smile, pointing to himself. “This faerie is going to dust you.” He turns his finger on her.
The Seelie Queen sidles up to Simon with a flirtatious smile that is frankly a little inappropriate for a girl her age, and she should probably not be grabbing the shirt of a guy who’s eighteen but looks twenty-five, or pulling him that close, or putting her lips right by his ear.
“You’ll make such a pretty pony,” she purrs.
(What’s her real age again?)
(Couple thousand, give or take. You’re good.)
(But the optics!)
(It’s fine! Move on!)
Meliorn clears his throat.
“My Queen,” he says cautiously. “We’ve already missed the wedding. We’ll never hear the end of it if we don’t show our faces at the reception.”
The Seelie Queen releases Simon with a perfectly executed teen-girl, “Whatever,” and takes a step back. Her punk-goth-princess hair flips over her shoulder as she looks toward the front of the RV.
“Later, Alec!” she says sweetly.
In a blink, the queen and her companion are gone.
“That was close!” Simon says with a sigh and a shaky smile.
Outside, a couple of familiar faces pass by the RV on their way to the club past the lines of waiting people.
Magnus still has a firm hold on Raphael’s hand, dragging his reluctant best man along like a particularly recalcitrant fashion accessory.
“Can we talk about this?”
Raphael sounds noticeably grumpy but still hella sexy with that voice. He digs his heels in and pulls Magnus back to have this discussion in the middle of the sidewalk, because no-one’s ever gotten in the way of anyone in downtown Manhattan when they had to have a serious talk.
“There’s nothing to talk about,” says Magnus flippantly. “We’re young. We’re free. We’re here. It’s time to party.”
Raphael narrows his eyes under furrowed brows. “You do realize what you’ve done, right?”
Magnus rolls his eyes, drawing attention to his multi-colored dramatic smoky eyeshadow with long swooping slices of liquid black liner that never looks that good when you try to do it yourself even with a step-by-step YouTube tutorial, the exact same brands, and a ton of makeup remover and time for do-overs.
“And I am HAPPY! Ecstatic! Ready to grab life by the balls and fondle them until it begs me for release.”
Raphael cringes and takes a step back, raising one hand in protest.
Magnus huffs. “I said ‘life’ not ‘you’.” He grins eagerly, lip gloss shimmering in the neon lights overhead. “I’m sure I can find a willing victim somewhere in there.” He cocks his head toward the club entrance.
Raphael makes a face. “Do we really have to?”
Magnus sighs and blows a raspberry through pouty lips. “No, we don’t. We’re just going to hang out here until the scene ends and the narrator moves on to—”
High Inquisitor Imogen Herondale sits behind an enormous desk in an imposing oak and leather office. There is a horse-head on the mantel of a gigantic fireplace for no particular reason. Imogen Herondale is a tall, square-jawed redhead in her sixties who used to burn bras and screw the patriarchy before it was cool, and before she realized there was a lot more money to be made in screwing the system from the inside.
A knock on the door raises her attention from the skull-numbingly boring mission report in her hands.
A young woman steps inside. She bares a mild resemblance to Maryse Lightwood, but her dress is a lot more slinky-number-for-clubbing than sensible-suit-for-serious-business. Her lips are fire engine red and her smile doesn’t make people feel vaguely uncomfortable.
“Inquisitor, the Heads of the Institute say they have tracked down Magnus Bane and are ready to pick him up and bring him in.”
“Really?” Imogen rises from her seat and rounds the desk with a noise of exasperation. “Then what are they waiting for?”
The girl blinks rapidly and shrugs her slim pale shoulders. “I don’t know. Mom and Dad just told me to come get you.”
They walk briskly through a couple of decorative yellow hallways to get back to the high-tech ops center where Robert and Maryse Lightwood are bickering under their breaths in front of the 3-D table.
Their daughter announces her arrival loudly before Imogen can get close enough to hear what they’re saying.
“High Inquisitor!” Maryse says exuberantly with an ingratiating smile that makes the little hairs on the back of Imogen’s neck stand up and braid themselves.
“Maryse,” she returns with far less enthusiasm. “Robert. What are you still waiting for? Let’s grab the warlock and bring him in. I want that A-cup!”
She can feel the three other people around the table try not to stare sneakily and doubtfully at her ample bosom.
“Now!” she barks.
Outside Club Pandemonium, Magnus and Raphael are exactly where they were before. As if on cue, four people dressed in tight black leather and spandex fall out of the waiting line and start to bear down on them.
“Magnus Bane, by order of the Clave, you’re under arrest!”
“What the hell is going on?”
Raphael lashes out with a pointy elbow, catching one of the Shadowhunters right in the face. The man staggers back with a bloody nose.
Magnus uses the distraction to bolt.
Two of the Shadowhunter’s companions quickly replace the injured one, wrestling Raphael to the ground.
Nobody around them seems to notice or care.
(Should I have explained about the glamour thing?)
(Nah, it’s an established universe. They know.)
(If not, it still works as a metaphor for continued apathy in the face of unchecked police brutality against minorities.)
Magnus looks back over his shoulder, staring in shock at what is happening to Raphael as he barrels down the street and straight into a solid chest with the word SUPER NERD written all over it. Big hands grab his shoulders to steady him before he can do a faceplant on the black-top.
“Hey, are you okay?”
Simon’s expression is all concern and no offense taken.
“You can see me?” Magnus jerks his head up in surprise.
“Kinda hard not to in that get up.” Simon grins. It turns up the brightness for a minute before the light dims back to normal. “Diggin’ the Ziggy Stardust homage, by the way. Killer eyeshadow.”
“Thanks.” Magnus beams. “Wait! Help!”
“What’s going on?”
“Shadowhunters. Bad guys. They’re trying to take me and my friend. Help us, please?”
Magnus drags Simon along behind him, back up the street.
Behind them, Clary steps around the corner.
“Simon? Where are you going? Wait up!”
They all return to the scene where Raphael is still lying face down on the ground with his arms twisted way too far up behind his back and one of the Shadowhunter’s pressing a knobby knee into the small of his back.
“Magnus, what are you doing?” Raphael growls between labored breaths. “I said, run!”
“I got help!” Magnus yells back.
Three of the four Shadowhunters, one with pieces of tissue stuffed into both nostrils, turn to face him. They wield glowing swords and one is brandishing what looks like a knock-off of a Xena – Warrior Princess chakram.
“Stay right there, Bane!”
“Oh, my god! What are you doing!?” Clary’s outraged screech draws everyone’s attention.
The whole crowd is staring at the redhead who stands next to a gawking lanky brunet guy at the side of the street, pointing at the wet black asphalt.
“Don’t you see what’s happening here?” she screams at the crowd before she stares back at the empty spot on the street.
(Okay, now you’re taking the metaphor a bit too far.)
(Sorry. It’s going to get worse.)
“You should be ashamed of yourself!” Clary fumbles in her pocket and pulls out her phone. “You’re not getting away with this! I’m filming you!”
Simon catches on quickly and pulls his own phone from his pocket. “Yeah. We’re gonna make sure everyone knows about this. I hope you’re ready to see your faces all over Good Morning America.”
The crowd around them starts to act like they’re the surprise audience at an impromptu live performance. It happens more frequently than you’d think in this city.
The Shadowhunters look at each other with identical expressions of shock and discomfort.
“They can see us?”
“How the hell can they see us?”
“What do we do?”
The guy with his knee on Raphael’s back rolls back and stumbles onto his feet.
“Abort mission. Let’s get the hell out of here!”
Magnus and Raphael watch in stunned silence as the four Shadowhunters retreat and start hopping up the side of buildings like CGI enhanced parkour pros.
“Take that!” Clary yells after them as she pockets her phone.
“Yeah," Simon shouts. "You don’t mess with New Yorkers!”
The crowd claps politely.
Simon and Clary shake their heads in disbelief. Raphael and Magnus exchange uncomfortable glances and pull the two unusual mundanes away from the crowd.
“Don’t be surprised if you two are the only ones who end up on TV tomorrow, biscuit,” Magnus says as he ushers Clary back around the corner they came from.
“What do you mean?” Simon asks, ineffectually tries to yank his arm out of Raphael’s grip with an angry glare.
“Mundanes can’t see us.” Raphael grumbles, reinforcing his hold on the squirmy boy with the twitchy face. “For some reason, you can. Why?”
“Wait.” Simon stops and whirls around, squinting at Raphael’s face and getting way too far into his personal space. “Are you guys See—”
“SIMON!” Clary’s screech cracks a broken window in the dilapidated building above them.
Simon snaps his mouth shut and sucks his cheeks in. Then he takes a deep breath through his nose that makes his eyes bug out behind his glasses.
“Are you guys Tinker Bells?” he asks suspiciously.
“What?” Raphael snaps his head back and pushes a hand against Simon’s chest to get him to back off.
“You know,” Simon hisses, looking around with a shifty glare. “If I clap my hands, will you grow wings?”
“What is wrong with you?”
“He’s asking if you’re faerie,” Clary says loudly. “You can use that word. You just can’t say the S-word, Simon.”
Simon twitches nervously and crosses his arms over his chest.
“So, are you?” he asks.
“No.” Raphael rolls his eyes and grumbles something unintelligible that ends with, “idiota. I’m a vampire, and he’s a warlock.” He turns to Magnus with an exasperated glare. “Which, by the way, hello! Magic? You couldn’t have …” He pauses with a series of jerky, wavy hand motions. “To get us out of this?”
“I freaked out!” Magnus flaps his hands in a much more graceful and fluid manner. “I’m a party warlock. I can’t remember the last time I used my magic for anything other than mixing drinks, doing makeup, or enhancing kinky sex! What was I supposed to do?”
Simon turns to him with a nonplussed stare. “You could have zapped away their clothes, tied them up, lifted their glamour, and left them naked and exposed in the streets of New York.”
Raphael’s gaze moves slowly back to Simon.
“That is cold,” he grumbles with a note of grudging respect.
Simon shrugs. “I have a lot of unresolved issues with bullies from when I was a kid.”
“Anyway,” Clary, says, looking between Magnus and Raphael with her arms crossed over her chest. “What do these spider monkeys want with you?”
“Shadowhunters,” Simon corrects her. “They’re called Shadowhunters, and they’re the bad guys.”
Clary’s delicate features crumple up in confusion as she points at Raphael. “But that guy’s a vampire.”
“Please.” Simon rolls his eyes. “There have been good-guy vampires since Buffy in the 90s, and they haven’t really been bad guys at all since you-know-what happened in 2008.”
“Vampire Diaries?” Clary asks.
“No, that was in 2009. I’m talking about the other thing.” Simon lets his face go slack with a total lack of expression and a half open mouth and stares into the middle distance. “I know what you are.” Then he switches to a slightly less vacant stare. “Say it. Out loud.”
“All right, all right! Enough!” Clary plugs her ears and starts to sing off-key. “Not listening. La-la-la-la-la.”
Simon stops and raises his hands in a gesture of defeat. “I’m done.”
Clary removes her fingers from her ears and glares at him before she turns back to Raphael and Magnus.
“Anyway,” she says again. “What do these Shadowhunters want with you?”
“I don’t know.” Magnus shrugs. “It could be anything. I’m kind of a little bit important in the Downworld.” He holds his forefinger and thumb about a half an inch apart.
Magnus looks to Raphael. “Would you?”
Raphael sighs and makes a grand, sweeping gesture with his arm. “May I introduce: Prince Magnus, son of Asmodeus, Prince of Hell, Fallen Angel, Ruler of Edom, Major Pain—”
“I think they get the picture,” Magnus interrupts him with a hand on his shoulder. “Thank you.”
“Okay,” Clary says reasonably. “so why don’t you go back home and tell your dad?”
Magnus cringes. “It’s a little more complicated than that. If you have a warm place to crash, I’m happy to explain.”
Simon and Clary look at each other, exchange a matching set of shrugs, and take the vampire and warlock back to their RV.
Inside, the curtains to the front are drawn tight. Only the vague outline of Alec’s long legs on the dashboard is visible.
Simon presses a finger to his lips and points meaningfully toward the back of the vehicle at the folding door into the bedroom. Magnus is the first to barrel his way through. He pushes the door aside with aplomb and takes a look inside.
“Oh!” he exclaims in delight. “Silk sheets! And in blue! My favorite color!” He throws himself onto the bed with a perverse moan of pure pleasure.
“What the hell?” Alec’s thunderous voice roars from behind the curtain out of the pilot seat.
Simon pushes Raphael after Magnus and snaps the folding door shut as fast as he can without tearing it off its hinges. He rushes toward the front to keep Alec from getting to the back.
“Alec, we can explain!”
He stops his taller friend with two hands on his chest, a little like trying to stop a car in neutral from rolling toward you with your bare hands.
“Explain what?” Alec huffs, pointing a dangerous finger toward the back of the RV. “Who the hell is rolling in my sheets?”
Clary bounces up to reinforce Simon’s barrier. “The prince of Edom. Junior. Magnus. He got himself into a bit of a scruff. It was ugly. You should have seen it. Simon and I were just there to help.”
Alec drops back a step, looking at his red-headed band mate with an air of long-suffering frustration.
“And how is you helping going to turn into me having a major headache this time?”
“Not at all! I promise. We’re just going to let him crash here for a bit.”
“We don’t have time for this, Clary.” Alec throws his hands up. “The Queen wants the Soul Sword and if we don’t give it to her by tomorrow, you and I are going to be dust, and Simon’s going to end up playing pony with her for eternity.”
Inside the RVs bedroom, Magnus and Raphael are sitting cross-legged on the king-sized bed. Raphael looks miffed. Magnus has his hands braced under his chin and is listening intently to the conversation going on outside the plastic folding door.
“He sounds like a real charmer,” Raphael comments acerbically.
Magnus sniffs and rolls his eyes.
On the other side of the door, Alec is not finished pointing out how much he is not having any of this.
“Besides, even if we didn’t have a damn death sentence over our heads, I have absolutely no interest in playing babysitter to a prince. That’s just another term for spoiled brat!”
Alec leans around Clary and Simon to shout toward the folding door.
“You hear that, you royal brat? This is not the Four Seasons, and we’re not your servants for the night!”
In the dim bedroom, Raphael’s eyes glow dangerously.
“What did he just call you?”
Across town, within the yellow walls of the New York Institute, Maryse Lightwood is pacing the floor of the ops center, leaving tiny holes in the marble tiles in front of a line of four thoroughly embarrassed, deeply terrified Shadowhunters.
“You let them escape?” she roars viciously. “How could this happen?”
“But ma’am,” one of the four stutters hesitantly. “The mundanes. They saw us.”
“Then you should have taken them, too!” She makes a frustrated noise that falls somewhere between a disgruntled kitten and an old man suffering from mild constipation. “Now we don’t even know where they are!”
“Actually,” pipes up another one of the four. “I saw them from the rooftop. They went with the mundanes and ended up inside a large recreational vehicle of some sort. It has an Angelic Power Rune painted on the side.”
Maryse raises her arms, fingers curling into claws that she slowly and shakily closes into tight fists.
“Go GET THEM!!!”
Magnus flares up, magic crackling between his clenched fingers as he balls them into fists inside his lap.
“No, you listen, you grumpy-ass jerk,” he bellows back through the flimsy door. “You better shut up and apologize before I curse you! I don’t let anyone talk to me like that. You don’t even know me!”
Alec opens his mouth to scream back, but a heavy impact rocks the RV, sending all of them tumbling.
“What the hell?” Alec staggers to the window, trying to see what is happening outside.
A dozen men and women dressed in black spandex and leather are surrounding the vehicle, trying to get in from all sides, including above and below.
“Shadowhunters!” Simon shouts in a panic. “We have to get out of here!”
Clary tries to push past Alec, but he picks her up with one arm and puts her back in place next to Simon.
“Hell no,” he says calmly. “You’re gonna kill someone.”
Alec strides to the front and swings himself into the pilot seat, bringing the RV to life with a serious of sputtering groans and protesting noises that have all of them hold their breath in anticipation of the thing just not starting.
The behemoth rolls into motion with a final snoring fart noise and slowly starts to roll backwards, sending the surrounding Shadowhunters scattering to avoid being squashed by a seven-ton recreational vehicle.
They try to give chase, but once the RV pulls onto the FDR, they have a hard time following on foot, even with enhanced speed and stamina.
Back at the Institute, the line of Shadowhunters, now twelve strong, stands in front of Maryse, getting yelled at.
“Where are they?” she barks.
“I’m so sorry, ma’am. We lost sight of them when they went across the bridge, somewhere into Brooklyn.”
Alec pulls the RV into the empty parking lot of a Stop & Shop and puts it in park. His expression is dark and stormy as he slowly turns his head to look at Simon in the co-pilot seat.
“Happy now?” he says coldly. “We just wasted two hours and the last of our gas on the little prince back there. For no good reason.”
Simon cringes and ducks his head into his hand. “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to get rid of his royal pain-ness before he causes us any more problems.”
At the same time in the back of the RV, Magnus crawls out of blue silk sheets and tries to reassemble his disheveled self into some form of cool poise and glamorous style.
Raphael looks at him from his seat at the edge of the bed with an apprehensive expression.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to go up there and tell that rude jerk exactly what I think of his driving.”
“Wait!” Raphael grabs him by the elbow. “We don’t even know where they took us and it sounds like they’re mixed up with the Seelie Queen. They can’t even say the word Seelie for some reason. We have our own problems. Do you really want to get mixed up in theirs? Shouldn’t we just … I don’t know … politely excuse ourselves and get out of here before the Shadowhunters find us again?”
Magnus makes a dramatic huffing noise and pulls his arm out of Raphael’s grip.
“You can do that. I, on the other hand, have an image to maintain.” He pulls his jacket straight and strides toward the folding door.
In the front of the vehicle, Simon is hanging on to Alec with an imploring look.
“What if they can help us solve our problem? Maybe if we help them out, they’ll be willing to help us?”
“As if!” Alec rolls his eyes.
Simon frowns. “You don’t even know what he’s like.”
“He’s a prince! They’re all the same! Spoiled, selfish..."
Alec pushes himself out of the pilot seat, determined to throw out the unwelcome guests. Simon lunges to hold him back, hanging on to his arm.
Inside the open folding door at the back, Magnus is struggling with Raphael who is trying to restrain him.
“I will not be disrespected by some rude, cock-sure…”
Alec pulls aside the curtain and heads toward the back of the vehicle, dragging Simon with him.
Magnus wrenches his arm out of Raphael’s clinging grasp, still looking back as he takes a few more steps up the center aisle.
They both come to a screeching halt as they are confronted with the unexpected smoking hot body and gorgeous face of the other.
“Fuck,” says Alec.
“Me,” says Magnus.
Clary sits on the pull-out couch below the window with a small container of ice cream in her lap and a spoon sticking out of her grinning mouth. This is her favorite part of the movie.
The stalemate only lasts a second before their respective tempers get the better of them again.
“Now listen,” Alec says with his hand raised and his large frame cramped into a rigid posture of authority.
“No, you listen!” Magnus says, ignoring all that except for a quick mental note of the tasty broad shoulders and narrow hips. “I will not be disrespected like some vapid little small town fan-girl!”
“Then maybe you shouldn’t act like a whiny little—”
Simon makes a high-pitched warning noise in his throat and waves two fingers in a quick slicing motion across his own throat.
Alec and Magnus both stop to stare at him.
Simon cocks his head pointedly toward the couch.
Clary is sitting with her arms crossed, snapping the spoon in a fast, angry rhythm against her forearm as she glares up at them with her brows raised. She’s no longer amused.
“Oh, no,” she says sweetly. “Don’t let me stop you. Go on.”
Both Magnus and Alec divert their gaze to the floor. The grimy carpet seems very interesting all of a sudden.
“Or,” says Simon with a shaky smile. “How about we figure out how we can help each other?”
Raphael snorts as he slides around Magnus and takes a seat at the dinette opposite the couch.
“How could you possibly help us? You’re mundanes. Weird ones who can see us and make deals with Seel—”
“You can’t say that!”
Raphael glares cross-eyed at the big white hand clamped over his mouth. He grabs the wrist attached to the hand and pries it off his face, relishing the repeated quiet yelps of “ow” as he does so.
“You can’t say it.” He deposits the grabby nerd in the seat across the table from him. “I have no such restrictions.”
“But what if—"
“Seelie,” Raphael barks and watches the nerd flinch. “Seelies. Seelie Queen. Seelie Realm. Seelie Court. Seeley Booth.”
Magnus rolls his eyes and turns his attention back to Alec.
“How did you make a deal with the Seelie Queen, exactly?” he drawls, narrowing his eyes. “Making deals with mundanes is a big no-no. Has been ever since the accords. She knows that.”
Alec shrugs. “She made one with us. Well, Clary and me, to be specific. Simon’s just collateral.”
“Huh,” says Magnus and looks at Raphael.
“Huh,” says Raphael. He leans closer to Simon and starts sniffing the air.
“Hey!” Simon says, backing away. “Who’s weird now? And no biting! Mundanes are friends, not food.”
Raphael pulls back with a noise of disgust and a roll of his eyes. “Definitely mundane.”
Clary sighs. “She gave us her magical blessing to become a successful band and in return she now wants the Soul Sword, whatever that is, by tomorrow, or she’s going to dust Alec and me and turn Simon into a pony.” Clary bites her lip with a worried glance at Simon. “Though, I’m not sure she’s being literal about that. I think it’s some kinky thing that we’re just dancing around to stay under the PG-13 rating.”
Magnus cringes. “I may have messed that up already. Can you talk about fondling balls in a PG-13?”
Clary cocks her head with a thoughtful frown. “What kind of balls?”
All four boys look at her with the exact same incredulous expression.
“Oh.” She blushes a pretty shade of pink and ducks her head. “Never mind.”
Raphael makes an impatient noise. “Can we get back to the plot?”
“Right,” Alec says and clears his throat before a frosty expression clouds his handsome features. “We’re out of gas, stuck in Brooklyn, and without money from tonight’s gig, which we missed thanks to your highness.”
“I’m sorry!” Magnus says with fluttering hands. “I had no idea today’s itinerary included my wedding and an attempted kidnapping by Shadowhunters. My schedule’s usually not that busy.”
The pretty fingers with the shiny nails capture Alec’s undivided attention for a moment before Magnus’s words penetrate his thick, messy black hair and even thicker skull.
Alec’s disappointment is audible in his tone and visible in the extraordinarily heart-wrenching someone-just-killed-my-puppy expression on his face.
“Great.” Raphael throws his hands up. “Now we’re going to get distracted with the romantic subplot.”
“Shut uh-hup,” Simon sing-songs as he leans casually across the table and hisses through his toothy smile. “Better them than us.”
Raphael shrugs his shoulders and nods in grudging agreement.
“At least you’re not reduced to fifth wheeling it until it’s time for a pithy comment to advance the boys’ relationship!”
Clary looks around Alec and Magnus with a sour glare before she turns back to them and bestows Alec with a warm, supportive expression.
“I’m sure Magnus can explain,” she says sweetly.
A dark, swirling orb of matter appears above their heads, dimming the light from the ceiling fixture. A disembodied voice echoes through the cramped living room of the RV, filling its five current occupants with noticeable trepidation.
“I would love to hear an explanation, son.”
The voice of Asmodeus, Prince of Hell, etc. etc. is not quite up there with the frightening rasp of Darth Vader or the menacing drawl of Hannibal Lecter, but he’s definitely somewhere beyond Lord Voldemort’s breathy whine and right around the corner from Batman’s Joker.
(The one from the animated series.)
“So, he’s the bad guy,” Simon states the obvious.
“Eh.” Magnus draws out the syllable, wagging his hand back and forth in a so-so motion. “Not so much in this story, but generally speaking? Yeah. Major bad guy.”
“Magnus!” Asmodeus booms. “Where are you? You are to come back here this instant. Your guests are waiting to witness your wedding.”
Raphael cringes. He reaches up to get Magnus’s attention with a soft touch to his elbow.
“Do you think he actually trapped them in the church?” he asks quietly, so as not to be overheard by the glowing orb of evil.
Magnus shrugs. “Probably.”
“Does he realize the vampires are going to get hungry?”
Alec, Clary, and Simon exchange horrified looks.
Raphael looks uncomfortable. “We should really go back.”
Magnus digs his heels in. “I’m not saying ‘I do’ to that Queen B.”
Alec’s face lights up. “So, you’re not actually married.”
“Magnus!” Asmodeus roars. “Where are you? And why did I just receive a fire message from the New York Institute of Shadowhunters, claiming they have you in custody?”
“They wish.” Magnus scoffs. “They tried, but we got away. What do they want?”
“An A-cup? I don’t know. Some sort of mundane implement, I’m sure.” Asmodeus shakes his head. “Look, where are you?”
“If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you. And I won’t marry Camille.”
“Magnus, be reasonable.”
“I am reasonable! You’re just trying to marry me off in a grandiose ceremony to piss off Lilith!”
“It’ll vex her for centuries if you tie the knot before her darling boy Jonathan.” Asmodeus’s voice is filled with unholy glee.
“That’s just wrong!” shouts Clary in outrage.
“We won’t let him do that to you,” Alec says with a determined scowl, placing a hand on Magnus’s shoulder.
“Who was that?” asks Asmodeus.
Magnus presses a shushing finger against his glossy lips with a glare that is made twice as dramatic by all the professional makeup around his eyes.
“Look,” Asmodeus drawls. “Whoever you are, if you are willing to return my son safely to me, I am willing to give you anything your heart desires. If you don’t believe me, know that I am Asmodeus, Prince of Hell, Fallen Angel, Ruler of Edom, Major Pain in the Ass of Lilith, and the father of the most irritatingly generous, stubbornly loving, and insufferably decent warlock to ever have sprung from the loins of a greater demon.” He takes a deep breath. “So, I Do. Mean. Anything.”
“Can you get us the Soul Sword?” Simon blurts out before anyone can stop him.
Alec and Clary glare at him even before Magnus turns around with a look of betrayal. Raphael just rolls his eyes.
“How could you?” Clary gapes in disbelief.
“Dust in a millisecond.” Simon points at her and Alec. Then he points at himself. “Pony-boy for eternity.”
At the very least, Clary and Alec have the decency to look ashamed, knowing it was their deal that had put the three of them into this unenviable position. Simon was already an amazing singer and songwriter before they met She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named in that dive bar in New Jersey.
“The Soul Sword?” Asmodeus asks. “What would anyone want with that old toothpick? Last I heard the children of the Nephilim were using it as some sort of truth-or-dare torture device.”
“Well, someone wants it.” Simon pressed. “Can you get it?”
“Great, then do that, and bring it to the Java Jones in Prospect Park first thing tomorrow morning. We’ll meet you there with your son.”
The dark orb disappears and Magnus doesn’t waste a second before he whirls around on Simon with crossed arms and an angry glare.
“You and what army, nerd boy?”
“I didn’t mean it!” Simon explodes with his hands all over the place. “I’m just trying to figure out a way for all of us to come up roses, preferably with you not married, the evil guys out of the picture, the deal off our backs, and me not playing pony-boy for the See-mph.”
Simon closes his eyes and releases a shaky breath against the tan hand over his mouth before he shoots a desperate look of gratitude down the length of a tuxedo clad arm.
Raphael removes his hand with a noise of disgust.
“Thanks,” Simon says sincerely.
“Don’t mention it.” Raphael wipes his palm on his pant leg. “Last thing we need is her showing up.”
Magnus unfurls from his fighting stance.
“So, what do we do now?” he asks and sends an imploring look in Alec’s direction.
Suddenly, everyone is looking at Alec as if he’s the only one capable of leadership in a dire situation.
“Don’t look at me.” Alec says with his hands raised in defense. “We’ve gone so far off the plotted beats, I’ve got nothing, and the narrator’s refusing to pull a stereotypical cis!male white savior trope.” He points at Clary. “Try looking at her.”
“You’re stuck, aren’t you?” Clary says looking through the fourth wall at the narrator.
(I’m not. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Gas!)
“What?” Clary frowns.
(But then a look of realization clears up her beautiful face and lights up her gorgeous green eyes.)
Clary gets up from the couch with a not-buying-it look on her face and heads toward the front of the vehicle.
“Oh, wow. We’re totally out of gas!”
“Yeah,” Alec says. “Not only that, but the dash started throwing up all the warning lights right around the time we turned onto Atlantic.”
“Crap,” says Simon.
“I know a place,” says Clary.
“Of course, you do.”
At the New York Institute, Maryse Lightwood is pacing the old-fashioned oak and leather office of the Institute Head. Her heels are wearing a literal groove into the tan-and-brown Persian carpet. Her ex-husband is tucked into the squeaky brown leather couch against the wall, nursing a scotch.
Both of them are trying to ignore the icy glare with which High Inquisitor Herondale is stabbing them from behind the enormous writing desk. Literally, she’s pulling sharp thumbtacks out of the desk drawer and hurling them across the room at both of them.
“Why have we not received a response from Asmodeus?” she asks sharply.
“Nothing to worry about, I’m sure. He’s probably just busy.”
“Too busy to respond to a ransom request for his own son?”
“He’s a very busy man. Demon. Prince of Hell. Robert, say something!”
“I’m sure this is just a negotiating tactic.” Robert Lightwood gets up from the couch and finishes his drink with one big gulp. “We’ll hear from him in no time. In the meantime, Maryse and I should really get back to overseeing the day-to-day operations. If you don’t mind.”
“Sure,” Imogen Herondale smiles and makes a sweeping gesture toward the door. “Feel free to get back to work at any point.”
Kicked out of their own office, the Lightwoods flee down the hallways to a private corner where they can furtively discuss the Very Big Mess they are currently finding themselves stuck in.
“How long do you think we have before she finds out?”
“Not long enough. And it’s not just her. We have to find that damn warlock and get him here before anyone finds out.”
Maryse Lightwood blanches. “What if Asmodeus already knows we were bluffing?”
“Don’t even think about thinking about it.”
Robert and Maryse jump equally high in the air, despite the fact that Maryse is half a foot taller than her ex-husband and wearing stiletto heels.
“What is it?” Maryse is the first to whirl around on the unfortunate Shadowhunter who has come to report to them.
“We just got notification of an unsanctioned deal with a mundane!”
“So what?” she snaps.
“The broker is Asmodeus, ma’am.” The Shadowhunter bounces excitedly on his heels. “He made a deal with a mundane boy from Brooklyn to exchange the Soul Sword for his son, Magnus Bane, first thing tomorrow morning at the Java Jones in Prospect Park.”
Maryse and Robert grasp each other by their arms with identical looks of elation and menace.
“We’ve got him!”
Alec, Simon, Magnus, and Raphael follow Clary down the block, across the street, around the corner, and up another block until they end up in front of an old gas station with a full-service garage behind it.
The ramshackle gas station sign has a big square logo with the letters JC intertwined at the top. The prices on the sign are ridiculous, because California writers never bother to check that kind of thing.
They walk through the open doors into the garage and Clary is the first one to approach the person in the dirty blue coveralls whose top half is currently hidden by the body of a 2008 Honda Civic.
“Excuse me,” she says.
There is no reaction from under the car, except a loud mechanical grinding noise and a muffled curse that stays unintelligible to avoid a higher rating.
“Excuse me!” Clary says again, louder.
There is a loud clang of forehead on metal before the top half of the blue coveralls comes flying out from under the car, revealing a guy with greasy blond hair and weird-colored eyes that stare directly into Clary’s surprised green ones.
“Wow, you’re hot.” They say at the same time.
“That’s it. I’m outta here.”
Raphael throws his hands up and turns around to walk away, but Simon holds him back with a fist twisted in his button-down shirt.
“You can’t leave. You might have an important bit later. I’m not gonna risk getting totally screwed because you can’t stomach a little romance at the top of the second act.”
Raphael cocks his head and raises his brows at Simon.
“Aren’t you supposed to be secretly in love with her?” He points a thumb toward Clary.
Simon cocks his head the other way and narrows his eyes.
“That was last year. I’m way over it.”
Raphael juts out his jaw with a skeptical look. “So, there’s not going to be any stupid love triangle drama?”
“Not from my side,” Simon promises. “Unless you secretly have the hots for Alec?”
Raphael makes a noise like he just swallowed something foul.
“Yeah, I didn’t think so.”
“Fine,” Raphael relents. “I’ll stay. You can let go of my shirt now.”
Simon lets go and pats down the shirt. “Nice suit, by the way.”
“What? I complimented Magnus’s outfit, too.”
“He did,” Magnus pipes up from behind them. “It was very much appreciated.”
When Raphael and Simon turn around, Magnus and Alec are standing very close.
“You do look gorgeous in that suit,” Alec tells him sincerely.
“Why thank you,” Magnus purrs. “I look even better out of it.”
Alec frowns. So does Magnus.
“That didn’t come out right.”
“Hey!” The blond mechanic’s voice echoes in the relative quiet of late-night Brooklyn, drawing everyone’s attention back to him and Clary. “Is there a reason you guys showed up here at screw-o-clock in the morning?”
“Right!” Clary jumps on her heels and claps her hands. “Are you JC?”
“I go by Jace these days,” he says, flipping a long strand of hair out of his face.
“Okay,” Clary says with a slow nod, biting her bottom lip as she looks him over. “Jace what?”
There is a moment of silence.
(I refuse to do the whole convoluted backstory with all the different last names and switched babies.)
“Works for me,” Clary says with a bright, disarming smile.
“All right,” says Raphael and puts himself between the googly-eyed couple. “Tell you what, Jay-Jay. I’ve got two hundred bucks in my breast pocket and a broken-down RV sitting in the Stop & Shop on Flatbush. Can you two love-birds do us all a favor and just disappear for a couple of scenes?”
“Hey, I’m supposed to be the magical Yoda character with the hidden clue about that guy’s mysterious past.” Jace points at Alec. “Can I at least get that done before you kick me out of the story?”
Raphael narrows his eyes and sweeps his hand toward Alec and Magnus.
“Make it quick,” he says in a warning tone.
Jace flounces past Raphael with an impressively dramatic eye-roll.
“You’re not who you think you are,” he says cryptically before he points back to Clary. “Neither is she. But I’ll explain that to her while we’re making out in the RV.”
He offers his oil-stained large hand to Clary who bounces up to him with a blissful grin and takes it in her own, much more delicate, clean one.
“Yes, please,” she chirps, reaching out with her free hand to squeeze his left butt-cheek.
“Stay off my sheets!” Alec calls after them as they toddle off and climb into the cab of a waiting tow-truck parked by the side of the garage.
“Now what?” Simon asks.
“Now you and I,” Raphael says, pointing between him and Simon, “are going to go take a nap somewhere while they,” he continues, pointing toward Alec and Magnus, “do whatever sappy cliché thing they’re going to do to get them closer toward the Big Romantic Gesture at the top of the third act.”
“Are you going to break out into a Virgin Alarm if they try to kiss?”
“Funny,” Raphael says dead pan and grabs Simon by the ear, dragging him away to give Magnus and Alec some privacy.
Not too far away, in the dark and drug-infested mess that is Prospect Park after dark, Robert and Maryse Lightwood are standing under a tree near the spot where the Java Jones food truck is scheduled to park starting at 6:00 am the next morning.
“This is crazy, Maryse.” Robert tightens his arms around his chest, holding the sides of his coat together. “There is no reason to be here now.”
Maryse glares at her ex-husband with all the venom of the lovechild of a basilisk and a black mamba.
“They said ‘first thing’ in the morning. The only way we can make sure that we are here before they are, and, more importantly, before he is, is by being here before morning.”
“So, we’re just going to stand here all night, and hope that we can bamboozle the mundane boy, take the warlock before he realizes we didn’t bring the sword, and get out of here before Asmodeus shows up and kills us just for sport?”
“Please. Asmodeus wouldn’t have the sword either. How would he? It’s safe on the wall in the Silent Brother’s council chamber, down in the City of Bones.”
Two burning strips of paper appear out of thin air at the same time and flutter down into the respective hands of Maryse and Robert Lightwood. The sharp, black scribbles of ink on the old-fashioned parchment scream in panic. Loudly.
THE SOUL SWORD HAS BEEN STOLEN!!!!!!!!!!
“Or maybe not.”
Maryse crumples the paper in her hand and closes her cold, cold eyes.
“It doesn’t matter,” she says. “We stick to the plan.”
“Maryse,” Robert says in a wobbly voice.
“We stick to the plan!” she screeches.
She waves a wand-like pen with a glowing tip over a twisted black tattoo on her shoulder and transforms into the spitting image of Asmodeus, Prince of Hell, Fallen Angel, Ruler of Edom, Major Pain in the Ass of Lilith, and the father of the most irritatingly generous, stubbornly loving, and insufferably decent warlock to ever have sprung from the loins of a greater demon.
“Ugh. That lily-livered lip-wobbling is why I divorced your sorry ass,” Asmodeus tells Robert Lightwood with a sneer of contempt.
At the gas station, Alec and Magnus sit next to each other on the closed hood of the 2008 Honda Civic, staring across the street at a desolate empty lot behind a chain-link fence that has suffered more undeserved abuse than most female teen idols.
Magnus shivers in the cold.
Alec shifts closer and puts his arm around him.
“I’d offer you my jacket, but I’m not wearing one.”
Alec raises his head with a baleful glare.
(I regret nothing.)
“That’s okay,” says Magnus as he leans his head on Alec’s shoulder. “I like this.”
He flashes a subtle thumbs up.
(I got you, sweetie.)
Magnus sighs. “Do you think we’ll figure out a plan before I have to go back to my father and marry Camille?”
“I won’t let anyone force you to marry someone you don’t love.” Alec’s glare turns inward as he tightens his arm around Magnus.
“Promise?” Magnus looks up and bats his long, long lashes at Alec.
“Promise.” Alec says fiercely.
Then he forgets what his next line is because he’s too busy staring at Magnus’s pink, glossy lips and wondering if they can get away with sneaking off to the little office attached to the service station for a quick exchange of blowjobs.
(Sorry, bud. Not in a PG-13.)
Both boys turn their heads with matching angry glares.
(I said sorry!)
“If you’re not going to let us do anything, at least have the decency to get us out of here!”
The next morning dawns bright and early over the streets of Brooklyn. Cars and buses zoom down the pothole infested streets.
Alec, Magnus, Raphael, Simon, and Clary walk the few blocks to Prospect Park.
“This is never going to work,” says Raphael.
“It’ll work,” Simon insists. “It has to.”
“If it doesn’t,” Alec says, “we’ll just get the heck out of there. I won’t let him take you.”
He tightens his grip around Magnus’s hand. Magnus looks up at him with a smitten smile, knowing there’s 100 percent bravado and 0 percent actual plan behind Alec’s determined look.
“Dude, you have to chill,” says Jace, who is inexplicably accompanying the group to their meeting with Asmodeus.
“Everyone clear on what the plan is?” asks Clary, holding on tightly to Jace’s hand.
Raphael rolls his eyes. “It’s hardly a plan.”
“I think I see him!” Simon shouts.
His outstretched arm is pointed at an elegantly dressed Eastern Asian man standing below a tree in the middle of Prospect Park close to a generic food truck with the words ‘Java Jones’ painted in funky letters over its vending window.
“Here goes nothing,” mutters Magnus, tightening his grip on Alec’s hand.
Simon bounces ahead of the group and approaches the elegantly dressed man alone.
“Did you bring the sword?” he asks quickly.
“First my son,” says the man.
“First, show me the sword,” insists Simon.
“Not until he agrees to come with me.” Asmodeus raises his arm toward Magnus. “Son! Come to me.”
Magnus scrunches up his face at the sight of the man in front of him.
“The sword!” Simon says again.
“Oh, Jesus, this is dragging on,” says Jace with an eyeroll. “Just go.”
He pushes Magnus forward into the arms of his supposed father.
Asmodeus cackles triumphantly and grabs Magnus by the back of his neck.
“Thank you, mundanes!” The glamour drops and Maryse Lightwood reveals her true form, still cackling triumphantly as she jostles Magnus by the scruff of his neck. “Bye bye!”
Clary tilts her head with a confused frown. “Wait. How is she going to…”
Inexplicably back at the New York Institute, Maryse Lightwood drags a confused Magnus Bane down the basement stairs and tosses him into an empty prison cell with a floor-to-ceiling window at its front for no good goddamn reason.
“You won’t get away with this,” Magnus seethes once he’s stuck behind the glass.
“Really? That’s the best you’ve got?”
Maryse rolls her eyes and walks away.
Back at the park in front of the food truck, Alec, Simon, Clary, Raphael, and Jace are staring at the empty spot where Maryse and Magnus have just disappeared.
“Don’t worry, man,” Simon says, clapping Alec on the shoulder. “You’ll get him back.”
Raphael groans and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Can we get some coffee first?”
An hour later, Raphael, Simon, and Clary are climbing back into the RV parked in front of Jace’s gas station while Alec lingers outside the door with Jace.
“Thanks for fixing the RV,” Alec says sincerely.
“Hey, no worries, bro,” Jace says with a wink and a click of the tongue, pointing a finger-gun at Alec. “Anything for you.”
Alec takes a step back with a skeptical frown.
“Don’t forget what I told you,” Jace says. “You’re not who you think you are.”
He bumps his fist against Alec’s chest in a good-natured tap and shakes Alec’s hand. When he pulls away, Alec is holding a clunky silver sigil ring between his fingers. The initial on the sigil is the capital letter L.
“Take it,” says Jace. “It’ll come in handy when you least expect it.”
“Okay,” Alec says slowly, and climbs into the RV. He swings himself into the pilot seat and starts up the engine with the roaring growl of a Mustang V8 engine.
“Ready to rescue my boyfriend?” he asks coolly.
“Boyfriend?” says Simon.
“When did that happen?” says Clary.
“I think I’m gonna barf,” says Raphael.
Maryse is back in front of the window to Magnus’s cell. She is biting her bottom lip, giddy with suppressed excitement.
“At last,” she says. “You’re in my grasp. The cup will be mine before the end of the day.”
Magnus makes a pouty face and a desperate noise of frustration.
“I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
Maryse huffs. “The Angel Cup. A.k.a. the mortal cup, a.k.a. the most precious possession the Shadowhunters have ever owned. Aside from the Mortal Mirror and the Soul Sword that is. By the way, remind me to get that one back from your father, too.”
Magnus stares at Maryse with all the disgusted disbelief he would give to a combination of socks, crocks, and fanny pack.
Down the street within view of the dilapidated cathedral that poses as the glamour cover of the New York Institute, Alec parks the RV in a previously non-existent parking lot next to an abandoned building.
Inside the RV, a dozen black shopping bags, imprinted with a white grinning skull logo and the words Hot Topic, take up the living room.
Clary squeezes her hands around her unnaturally tiny waist, gasping for breath inside the restrictive corset that is making her small breasts pop out.
“How can they fight like this?” she wheezes.
“I don’t know,” Simon says, unsuccessfully trying to adjust himself inside the crotch of impossibly skin-tight black latex pants. “I’m not sure I’m going to be able to walk.”
“Amateurs,” says Raphael, rolling his eyes as he adjusts the wrist cuffs belonging to his full-body black leather outfit.
“Stop bickering, and let’s go.”
Alec, dressed in an equally impressive leather fetish ensemble, steps out of the bedroom with long, determined strides and brushes past all of them through the RV’s side-door into the bright, sunny New York City morning.
In the basement of the Institute, Maryse and Robert Lightwood, as well as High Inquisitor Imogen Herondale, are gathered in front of the window of Magnus’s prison cell, linked in a video conference call with Asmodeus.
“You filthy Angel scum,” Asmodeus snarls. “What are you doing to my son?”
“The worst possible things you can imagine, Asmodeus, and so much more,” Imogen drawls with gusto.
Maryse turns and twiddles her fingers at Magnus in a jaunty little wave.
Magnus screams and curses inaudibly behind the soundproof glass, glaring at the Shadowhunters.
“Unless,” Imogen continues with a sharp smile, “you give us the A-cup.”
“And the Soul Sword,” Robert adds quickly.
“What?” says Imogen sharply.
“Don’t worry, High Inquisitor,” Maryse reassures her with a smile. “It’s all under control.”
“You can have the stupid toothpick,” Asmodeus snarls in irritation, “but I don’t have your precious A-cup, whatever it is.”
“Oh, for the Angel’s sake!” cries Imogen. “It’s a code word for the Mortal Cup! About yay big,” she holds out her left hand palm up and her right hand palm down above it with enough room for a standard wine glass between them. “Gold and glass, chintzy looking. Makes new Shadowhunters unless it kills the poor bastards that drink from it.”
“Oh, that thing!” Asmodeus says with a sudden look of understanding. Then he shakes his head with a blank expression. “Yeah, still don’t have it. Not sure why you think I do.”
“We have a prophecy that says the progeny of the traitor has been burdened with the bearer of the A-cup.”
“Yeah,” says Asmodeus. “Still not sure how that points to me?”
“Lucifer was the biggest traitor of the Angels.” Maryse steps forward, pointing accusingly at Asmodeus’s image on the TV screen. “You’re his closest disciple!”
“Eh.” Asmodeus makes a so-so motion with his hand.
“If you don’t have it,” Imogen growls, “then who does?”
“How am I supposed to know?”
Asmodeus throws his hands up in an elegant gesture of exasperation. It’s obvious where Magnus gets it from.
Imogen glares at Maryse and Robert and slices her finger across her throat in a brash motion.
Maryse and Robert look at each other confused for a moment, trying to figure out who they are supposed to kill.
“The video link!” Imogen growls through her teeth.
Maryse and Robert scramble to reach the computer and cut the connection to Asmodeus.
A little while later, Magnus is sitting abandoned and desolate on the cold floor of his fancy prison cell, humming a forlorn tune under his breath.
A loud commotion from the top of the stairs doesn’t get his attention, because he’s still behind soundproof glass. He has no idea what’s happening until Alec shows up on the other side of the window with a brilliant smile and a triumphant look on his handsome face.
Magnus throws himself at his boyfriend and crashes against the cold glass pane like a brainless bird before he realizes there’s no getting through. His eye go wide and his whole face crumples in frustration.
Alec points toward the door at the side of the room.
They use the hand of an unconscious Shadowhunter to get past the touch screen lock.
Finally, Alec and Magnus embrace each other tightly. They share a kiss that makes Clary, Simon, and Raphael shuffle their feet awkwardly in the background, growing suspicious about what exactly those two really got up to between the scene at the garage where they almost kissed and the one where everyone showed up at Prospect Park for the botched hostage exchange.
(Don’t look at me. I have no clue what’s happening right now.)
“How did you find me?” Magnus breathes, looking up at Alec like he’s a preview of the 2020 Vivian Westwood Spring Collection.
“No time to talk,” Alec responds as he grabs Magnus by the hand and ushers him toward the stairs. “I’m getting you out of here.”
Clary, Simon, and Raphael are hot on their heels.
They run up the stairs, past a handful of unconscious Shadowhunters, through a maze of yellow hallways. They are rushing toward a fire safety door with a bright green exit sign on top of it when a cold, cold voice covers the walls around them in a crawling layer of ice.
“Stop right there!”
Maryse Lightwood stomps her foot, cracking the marble under her stiletto heel.
Magnus, Alec, Simon, Clary, and Raphael glance at each other, still running.
“What’s she gonna do if we don’t?” Raphael asks.
“Keep going!” Clary yells and throws her feather weight ineffectually against the panic bar of the heavy safety door.
“Told you to work out more,” Alec says as he pushes the door open and holds it for everyone else to get out ahead of him.
“So cliché.” Clary rolls her eyes.
“My hero.” Magnus blows him a kiss.
“I thought it was funny,” Simon pauses in the doorway to shrug.
“Shut up, idiot.” Raphael pushes him out.
Alec follows them at a brisk pace, shaking his head.
Maryse’s angry face appears in the crack of the leisurely closing door. Her arm lashes back to pull something from the top of her head that sends her French twist tumbling into a luxurious cascade of shampoo commercial ready hair. She hurtles the item in her hand with all her might in the direction of the escaping heroes.
A silver flash whizzes past Magnus’s head, missing his face by less than a millimeter and severing a tiny wisp of shiny black hair from his perfectly styled coif.
Magnus whirls around with murder in his eyes.
“She cut my hair! That bitch.”
Maryse re-opens the fire exit door and steps out into the courtyard behind the cathedral only to freeze with a look of shocked surprise on her face.
Magnus waves his pretty, shiny fingers in a complicated, elaborate dance.
Alec stares open-mouthed like a horny imbecile.
Raphael cringes and covers his face.
Clary presses her lips together to stop herself from laughing.
Simon looks between Magnus and Maryse with an expression of cruel, giddy excitement.
A blast of fiery red magic bursts out of Magnus’s fingers and barrels toward Maryse, striking her center-mass and knocking her off her feet.
When she struggles back up onto her knees, she is stripped down to a skin-colored old lady shape-wear bodysuit that covers her from her shoulders to her thighs and her arms and legs are tied up with intricate Japanese bondage rope work.
Simon is still laughing by the time they get back to the RV and pile into it one after another.
“I can’t believe you actually did it!”
“It was your idea.” Magnus shrugs with a helpless expression as he plops down opposite Simon at the dinette.
Raphael sighs, hating to be the bearer of bad news.
“You know that’s only going to buy us a little bit of time before they come after you again.”
“What do they want again?” Clary asks.
“The A-cup,” Magnus says with a sigh. “Apparently, it’s an alternate name for the Mortal Cup. It’s an old Shadowhunter artifact that lets them create more of their nasty little bunch. Probably by getting thoroughly plastered because they’re too uptight to do it without getting blind drunk first.”
“Wait,” Clary says. “The Mortal Cup? Are you sure that’s what it’s called?”
“Yep,” Magnus nods. “They have a prophecy that says, and I quote: the progeny of the traitor has been burdened with the bearer of the A-cup. Whatever that means.”
Clary makes an outraged noise. “Well, that’s just rude.”
Everyone looks at her with matching expressions of confusion.
“Well,” she says, “I don’t know who the traitor’s progeny is supposed to be, but I have the Mortal Cup, and I’m definitely not a burden or an A-cup.” She motions at her corset encased boobs.
Magnus gives them a purely professional once-over, judging them to be somewhere between an over-full A and a small B.
Simon twitches his brows with an eh-what-the-hell expression and gladly accepts the officially sanctioned opportunity to enjoy the view.
Alec and Raphael just roll their eyes toward the ceiling of the RV.
“Anyway!” Clary says, drawing everyone’s attention back to her face. “We’ve got the cup. Your dad still has the Soul Sword. And the Shadowhunters still have it out for Magnus. What do we do next?”
Alec raises his hand. “How do you have the Mortal Cup?”
“My mom gave it to me. It’s stuck in this old tarot card. No clue how she got it in there or how to get it out, but she told me to keep it safe and never to show it to anyone because one day some bad guy might come for it, and I can’t let him have it or bad stuff will happen.”
Simon’s jaw drops as he stares at Clary. “How come you never told me any of that stuff?”
Clary stares back at him with raised brows. “Would you have believed me?”
Simon makes an uncomfortable noise and shrugs. Then he goes serious and points at her face.
“I would have believed you after that stupid deal with the Seelie Queen!”
As everyone screams his name, Simon ducks and covers his head, waiting for the Seelie Queen to descend upon them, dust everyone else, and turn him into her pony for the rest of eternity.
When nothing happens after a few seconds, he looks up from under his arms, finding everyone else looking around the cramped living space of the RV with confused and suspicious expressions.
“Maybe she didn’t hear me?” Simon hazards a guess.
“I don’t think that’s how it works,” Raphael says with a frown.
“Yeah,” Magnus says, shaking his head, “there’s definitely something else going on.”
“Can we just … take the win?” Alec says in an exhausted voice, sinking into the pilot seat and starting the engine with a more subdued Mustang growl. “I think we’re about due for things to start going our way.”
With his eyes glued to Alec, Magnus leans over to Clary beside him on the couch.
“For a guy who’s so hung up on his silk sheets, he seems to spend an awful lot of time in the pilot seat.”
Clary snickers. “That’s because he’s terrified I’ll try to drive if he doesn’t get there first.”
Magnus leans away from her with a horrified expression. “Just how bad is your driving?”
Simon barks out a loud laugh from the dinette.
“You don’t want to know,” he says.
They end up in front of the other church in this story where this adventure began for Magnus. Raphael and Simon have to physically drag Magnus out of the RV’s side door while Alec is holding up his hands, refusing to provide any more support to the crazy plan they hatched out between scenes. He drove them here, and that’s as far as he’ll go.
Everybody else heads up the wide sandy path toward the church.
“Okay, fine. If everyone’s going.”
Alec jogs to catch up with them before they reach the main entrance.
As they pass through the doors into the church, they feel the chewing-gum resistance of a force field dragging around them until it snaps back in place between the doors, trapping them inside the building.
“Ugh,” Magnus groans in disgust. “He knows how to make them non-stick. He just never bothers.”
The long, long, long, long, long rows of pews on both sides of the center aisle are filled with the slumped bodies of wedding guests. Only about a third of them look like they’re enjoying a good food coma.
Two rows from the back, the teenage Seelie Queen and her companion are slumped against each other. The queen’s neck and arms have been perforated with puncture marks as if she has been attacked by a herd of particularly industrious mini hole-punches.
Raphael takes in the slumped figures with a furrowed brow.
“Gluttony,” he mutters in disapproval and crosses himself.
Magnus gets more fidgety the closer they walk to the altar.
Asmodeus and the priest are waiting for them. The puffy white cloud of Camille is suspiciously absent.
“Son!” Asmodeus bellows, spreading both his arms in warm welcome.
Magnus tries to turn and make a run for it, but Raphael and Simon hold him steady from both sides.
“It’s the climax,” Simon says. “You have to confront him.”
“Let’s just get this over with,” says Raphael.
They push Magnus forward until they’ve reached the altar.
“Finally,” Asmodeus says, “You’ve come to your senses.” He looks over to his left at the closest pew. “Camille!”
Now that he is standing on the platform, looking back, Magnus sees Camille. She is a shapeless white blob on the floor. Her head is resting on her arms, clinging to the seat of the pew in obvious advanced stages of food coma. Her whole face is smeared with chunky red goop that could be blood, or it could be cranberry-cherry jam.
She raises her head and burps.
Everyone makes disgusted faces and turns their attention back to Asmodeus.
“Time to tie the knot,” he says with fake cheer.
Magnus opens his mouth to protest.
“I WANT THAT DAMN CUP!”
Behind them, Maryse Lightwood is storming up the aisle. She is once again dressed in her power suit, stiletto heels hole punching the carpet as she goes. Her long dark locks spill around her face in a wild mane. She didn’t have time to find her hairpin.
(But she had time to change clothes?)
“That woman just won’t quit!” says Clary.
“It’s admirable, honestly,” says Alec. “If she wasn’t messing with my boyfriend.”
“Give me the cup!” shouts Maryse, stretching her hand out toward no one in particular.
“Geez, lady!” Clary steps forward. “I’ve had about enough of it. You want the cup? Here.”
Clary pulls a tarot card from an undisclosed location down the back of her pants and holds it up for everyone to see.
“There it is. Your precious Mortal Cup. All trapped in cardboard and paint. And you know what?”
Clary grins maniacally and flips the card sideways, holding it with both hands, her delicate white fingers lined up along the long edge at the top.
“I always wanted to know what would happen if I did this.”
She tears the tarot card neatly down the middle. It makes a sound not unlike galaxies colliding or the final collapse of a red dwarf if you could hear such a thing in the vacuum of space.
Mostly, there is just a blinding white light that fills the room, and then the cacophony of a full-scale orchestral choir collectively missing their note at the final crescendo.
Then stunned silence as everyone looks at the torn pieces of paper on the carpet in front of Clary’s feet.
Maryse gasps. “You didn’t.”
Clary shrugs. “Are you really surprised?”
“I’m not.” Alec scoffs. “It’s a perfectly asinine move with staggering consequences that’s going to create a massive headache for everyone around you, so of course you did it.”
He shrugs, raising both hands in the process, flashing the clunky silver ring with the ‘L’ on it that Jace gave him when they said their goodbyes at the gas station.
Maryse goes even paler than before. “It’s not possible.”
“Oh, no,” says Alec with a polite smile. “Believe me. She does it to me all the time.”
“No, you are…” Maryse goes from white to green, pointing a shaking finger at Alec’s face. “The progeny of the traitor.” Her eyes roll up into her head and she faints onto the carpet.
Alec blinks. “That was weird.”
Asmodeus’s loud and heartfelt laughter fills the cavernous space with the resonating smacks of an extra-obnoxious golf clap.
“Delightful!” he proclaims. “Simply delightful. I love it. The twist. The reveal. The fainting. It’s perfect.”
“What are you talking about?” Alec asks.
“You still don’t know?” Asmodeus turns his head and raises a supercilious brow. “I thought your clues were rather obvious.”
(I hope they are. Either way, the audience knew from the get go, because it’s an established universe, so they’re probably really just wondering what exactly happened. Should I do a series of flashbacks?)
“NO!” Everyone screams simultaneously.
There is an awkward pause.
(Quick and dirty exposition dump?)
“Yes, please, allow me.” Asmodeus grasps Alec’s hand and brushes his thumb over the face of the sigil ring. “Mister Lightwood,” he purrs and takes a deep breath.
“You are in fact a Shadowhunter, born to the very harpy that rests prone at our feet. Say hello to mummy.” He prods the unconscious Maryse with the tip of his shoe.
“She cast you out before you were a year old because unlike every other Shadowhunter child, you were born with a distasteful and unquenchable sense of joy. You smiled. A lot. Too gay to stay.” Asmodeus winks.
“So, she abandoned you at a local hospital which is how you found yourself orphaned and growing up as a mundane, meeting Clary and Simon in elementary school and going on to become a merry little high school band.”
Asmodeus rolls his free hand around his wrist, presenting the information with pomp and panache.
“Of course, Clary is a Shadowhunter, too, but she already explained her bit, so I’m going to skip it. But!” He smiles. “It’s what allowed you to make a deal with the Seelie Queen when she heard you play at that impromptu gig in the shabby little dive in New Jersey. And why your little mundane friend over there was only collateral.”
Asmodeus leans around Alec to narrow his eyes at Simon. “Still mad at you, by the way. Had I known you were a mundane, I would have insisted on making the deal with Clary. It would have spared me having to deal with the Clave later.”
Alec stands poleaxed, his ring hand still firmly grasped in Asmodeus’s grip.
A look of disgust twists his handsome face as he looks down at the unconscious woman he refuses to ever acknowledge as any sort of family member at all. He doesn’t have a mother. Especially not one like that. Even though her steadfast determination in the face of overwhelming opposition was admirable.
“I’m one of them?”
“I’m afraid so,” says Asmodeus.
Magnus steps up beside him and pulls Alec’s hand out of Asmodeus’s grip.
“You don’t have to be if you don’t want to,” he says, lacing their fingers and giving Alec’s hand a gentle squeeze. “I won’t allow anyone to force you into doing something you don’t want.”
“Now this is interesting.” Asmodeus shifts his gaze between their faces and their linked hands with a calculating expression. “Oh…” His eyes flicker to the barely conscious Camille, still clinging to the seat of the front pew. “I couldn’t, could I?” He bites his lip. “It would piss Lilith off, so, so, so much.” His gaze moves to Maryse on the carpet. “Her, too.”
A look of utter demonic joy transforms Asmodeus’s face and he claps his hands loudly.
“All right, boys. Time to finish what we started! Everyone, take your places. We’re having a wedding.”
Magnus flares up with instant rage and bright red magic. “I am not marrying Camille!”
“Oh, get with the program, boy.” Asmodeus snuffs out the fiery ball in his son’s palm with a casual pat from his hand. “Not Camille. Him!” He points at Alec.
“What?” Alec freezes and squeaks. “Me?”
“Yes.” Asmodeus nods his head and intones in a deep bass. “You.”
Magnus and Alec exchange a panicky look. They are still holding on to each other’s hand, though.
“This is awesome,” says Simon. “It’s like at the end of Spaceballs when—mph-mph-mphm.”
Raphael’s hand is clamped over Simon’s mouth as he gives the mundane boy a death glare that should sever him in half somewhere between his eyeballs and the tip of his nose.
“I am really, really ready to get out of here in as few paragraphs as possible. So, zip it.”
Simon nods his head in a jerky fashion and settles down. Then he licks Raphael’s palm because he’s just that immature.
“Gross.” Raphael wipes his hand on his tuxedo pants and steps up beside Magnus and Alec at the altar. “It’s just a ceremony. It’s not even valid in the State of New York because you haven’t filed a wedding license with a clerk. Let’s just get this done.” He makes an impatient hand-wavy motion toward the priest.
Alec and Magnus look at each other for another moment before they execute a perfectly synchronized shrug and step up in front of the priest together.
“Dearly beloved,” says the priest. “We are gathered here today, to witness the wedding of our esteemed Prince Magnus, son of Asmodeus, Prince of Hell, Fallen An—”
“Can we speed this up?” Raphael snarls angrily.
“He means the short-short version!” Simon pipes up helpfully from the first pew.
He’s sitting dangerously close to the hungry white cloud that is Camille.
“You might want to move over to the groom’s side,” Raphael suggests waspishly.
“Which one?” Simon asks.
“Away from her.” Raphael points at Camille.
Simon starts inching away from Camille, skedaddles to the other side of the aisle, and squeezes himself into the front pew at the very end next to a row of slumped bodies.
Raphael sighs. “We’re never getting out of here.”
The priest clears his throat.
“All right, the short-short version,” he snaps and looks at Alec. “Do you?”
“Yes,” Alec says.
The priest looks at Magnus. “Do you?”
“Yes!” Magnus exclaims enthusiastically.
“Great. You’re married. Go ahead and kiss.”
They do, and it’s not a thing that should be happening in church. There’s even some below the belt groping going on, because Alec is still wearing the leather pants that came with his Hot Topic Shadowhunter outfit and Magnus never could resist a nice, firm ass.
Clary, Simon, Raphael, and Asmodeus applaud.
Maryse is still unconscious on the carpet.
Somewhere in the far reaches of Edom, at the very top of a black, black tower surrounded by an eye-wrenchingly orange hellscape, is a window.
Through the window, we glimpse into a throne room that is every Goth and Death Metal fan’s wet dream.
Dressed in a sparkling black formal gown that would have taken the top spot on all the top ten lists of “Who wore it best?” if there was such a thing in hell, Lilith, Mother of Demons, Adam’s First Wife, Queen of All She Purveys, Relentless Thorn in the Side of Asmodeus, has just received a pleasantly fragrant, expensive to the touch snow-white parchment envelope, decorated with her name in flawless calligraphy.
She narrows her eyes in suspicion and slices through the envelope with a razor sharp, impractically long, pointy red fingernail.
Flowing script in black ink scrawls across the single sheet of parchment inside.
You are cordially invited to celebrate the recent wedding of my son, Magnus Bane, and his beloved, Alec Lightwood, the prodigal son of one of your favorite Shadowhunter families, ever. Too bad you couldn’t be there for the ceremony. We missed you.
P.S. Feel free to send an expensive gift anyway.
Outside of the black, black tower in the middle of the eye-wrenchingly orange hellscape, demonic wyverns of all shapes and sizes scatter into the four cardinal directions.
A scream rends the sweltering hot air, unlike anything ever heard before, going on for much longer than human lungs would have the capacity to carry.