Home > The Lost Book of the White (The Eldest Curses #2)(3)

The Lost Book of the White (The Eldest Curses #2)(3)
Author: Cassandra Clare, Wesley Chu

“Bed’s closer to the kid’s room. Quieter to stay here,” Magnus murmured. “Also, we would have to kick Chairman Meow off the bed.”

“Aw,” said Alec, dipping his head to kiss the hollow of Magnus’s throat. Magnus let his head fall back and allowed himself a little pleased moan. “He hates that.”

“Hang on,” said Magnus, stepping back. With a flourish, he divested himself of the robe, letting it fall into a pool of black silk around his feet. Underneath, he wore navy pajamas covered in small white anchors. Alec’s eyes narrowed.

“Well, I didn’t know this was happening, obviously,” Magnus said. “Or I would have worn something sexier than my fuzzy sailor pajamas.”

“They are plenty sexy,” said Alec, and then both of them froze, because a sudden scream rent the air. Alec closed his eyes and exhaled slowly, and Magnus could tell he was mentally counting to ten.

“I’ll go,” said Alec.

“I’ll go,” said Magnus. “You just got home.”

“No, no, I’ll go. I want to see him anyway.” Still only in his trousers, Alec padded toward the hall to Max’s room. He looked over his shoulder at Magnus, shaking his head and smiling. “Never fails, huh.”

“Kid’s got a sixth sense,” Magnus agreed. “Rain check?”

“Stay there.”

Magnus opened a little Portal to Max’s room to watch Alec pick up their son and rock him. Alec looked over at the Portal from his end and said, “Sure, that seems much easier than just walking down the hall.”

“I was told to stay here.”

Alec pointed at the Portal and said to Max, “Is that bapak? Do you see bapak?”

Magnus had wanted to be called something that felt true to his own childhood, but it always felt strange. His own father, the human one, had been bapak, and when he said it to Max, he felt a little twinge, as though he were walking on his father’s grave.

Max quickly calmed—these days a scream was more likely to be a nightmare than anything requiring more than soothing—and blinked sleepy eyes at Magnus, who smiled and wiggled little glittery sparks from the ends of his fingers at his child. A smile broke on Max’s face as his eyes drifted shut. He was already almost asleep again, one chubby blue arm flopping out to the side. Max’s skin was deep blue—that was his warlock mark, along with adorable stubs that Magnus suspected would grow into horns. Alec returned him to his crib. Magnus watched, marveling at the strange happiness of his life now, as a beautiful, extremely fit man with no shirt and startlingly blue eyes cared for the baby they had together. He cursed his own sentimentality and tried to think sexy thoughts.

Alec looked up at him, and in the dim light Magnus could suddenly see how weary he looked. “I,” Alec declared, “am going to go take a shower. Then I will return to you in the living room.”

“Then probably another shower,” said Magnus. “Hurry back.” He closed the Portal and returned to his book, a study of Scandinavian mythological artifacts and their owners and locations through history. He planned to begin thinking sexy thoughts again when Alec got back.

Two minutes into Alec’s shower, which, based on Alec’s usual showers, was likely to last around twenty minutes, Max gave a sudden cry in his sleep. Magnus was immediately alert, and then, when no further sound came, relaxed again and returned to his reading.

A few minutes later, he heard footsteps in the hallway. Magnus turned around fast. He wasn’t crazy; someone had been testing his wards and planning to break in.

When he saw who appeared in the doorway, his heart sank. No matter what she was here for, nobody was going to be having any romantic times tonight.

“Shinyun Jung,” he said, affecting a blasé tone. “Are you here to try to kill me again?”

Shinyun Jung’s warlock mark was a supernaturally still face, her expression blank and secret no matter what she was feeling. The last time Magnus had seen her, she had been tied to a marble pillar to restrain her, her plot to bring the Prince of Hell Asmodeus to power ruined. Magnus had sympathy for her—she had rage and pain inside her that he could understand all too well. And he had not been upset when she “somehow escaped” Alec’s custody and they had not had to turn her over to the Clave.

Now she stood before Magnus, impassive as ever. “It took a great deal of time to break through your wards. They were very impressive.”

“Not impressive enough,” Magnus said.

Shinyun shrugged. “I needed to talk to you.”

“We have a telephone,” Magnus said. “You could have just called. It’s not a great time, actually.”

“I have some very, very good news,” Shinyun said, which was not what Magnus had been expecting. “Also, I need the Book of the White. You will give it to me.”

That was more what he had been expecting.

Magnus considered whether to go into an explanation of why, despite his wishing Shinyun all the best in her life, nevertheless he was wary of giving her one of the most powerful spell books in existence, because of everything he knew about her and all the things she had done. Instead he said, “I don’t have it anymore. I gave it to the Spiral Labyrinth. But what is this good news?”

Before she could speak, a second figure stepped into the room from the hallway.

Magnus gasped.

Ragnor.

Ragnor, who had disappeared three years ago. Who had reassured Magnus he would be in touch soon. Magnus had waited, and then taken up an active search, and in the end he had concluded that Ragnor had been caught after all, that his ruse had failed, that he was dead in truth. Ragnor, who he had mourned for, and said good-bye to in his head, if not in his heart.

Ragnor, holding Max.

Magnus was rendered speechless. Under normal circumstances, he would have gone for his seventh-ever hug with Ragnor. But these weren’t normal circumstances. Shinyun was here, and there was something very odd about the way Ragnor was looking at Magnus.

And the way he was holding Max. He held him indifferently, like a sack of flour. Max didn’t seem to mind, actually. He was still mostly asleep and blinking very slowly.

“So,” said Ragnor, more sharply than Magnus would have expected, “I see this happened. I always assumed you’d end up with one of these somehow, Magnus. But is it wise?”

“His name is Max,” Magnus said. He was just going to take this one moment at a time. “Someone had to take him in. So we did. He’s ours. How did you get in, anyway?”

Ragnor chuckled, a familiar sound made eerie by its unexpected reappearance. “Magnus Bane. So great in power, so soft in heart. Always taking in the helpless and needy. You’ve got a whole little shelter here, between the Shadowhunter and this little blueberry.”

Magnus was not sure that, given Ragnor’s attitude, he had the right to call Max a blueberry. “It’s not like that,” he said. He looked over at Shinyun, who watched the exchange with silent interest. “We’re a family.”

“Of course you are,” said Ragnor. His eyes glittered.

“So,” Magnus said, “are you still fake dead? Or is this officially your return to life? Also, how do you know Shinyun? Also also, I think you should give me the baby.”

Shinyun spoke up. “Ragnor and I are collaborating together on a project.”

Alec was still in the shower. Magnus considered making a sudden loud noise, although he really wanted to get Max back from Ragnor before that. He decided to stall. “I hope you won’t mind,” he said, “if I ask you about the nature of that project. Last time I saw you, Shinyun, my boyfriend was releasing you from imprisonment, in the hope that you’d learned an important lesson about working with Greater Demons, Princes of Hell, and the like. Specifically, we hoped that you’d learned not to work with them in future.” The category of Greater Demons was broad—it included many types of intelligent fiends. Princes of Hell were far more powerful—they were former angels who had fallen when they fought on the side of Lucifer in the rebellion.

“Obviously,” said Shinyun with a haughty air, “I no longer serve a Greater Demon.”

Magnus let out a slow breath of relief.

“I serve,” said Shinyun, “the Greatest Demon!”

There was a pause.

“Capitalism?” hazarded Magnus. “You and Ragnor have started a small business and you’re looking for investors.”

“I serve the greatest of the Nine now,” said Shinyun in a gloating, triumphant tone that Magnus remembered well and hadn’t liked the first time around either. “The Maker of the Way! The Eater of Worlds! The Reaper of Souls!”

“The Wonder from Down Under?” suggested Magnus. “And Ragnor? Old buddy? Where are you on world-eating?”

“I’ve come around to being in favor of it,” Ragnor said.

“I should have mentioned earlier,” said Shinyun. “Ragnor is entirely under the thrall of my master. And my master has given him the gift of the Svefnthorn.” From a scabbard at her side she drew a long, ugly iron spike, barbed along its blade and ending in a sharp point that was wickedly twisted like a corkscrew. It looked like a very goth fireplace poker.

Magnus’s self-control snapped.

“Give me the baby, Ragnor,” Magnus said. He got up and made for his friend.

“It’s very simple, Magnus,” said Ragnor, shielding Max from Magnus’s grasp. “Sammael, ruler of Greater Demons, the greatest of the Princes of Hell, is inevitably guaranteed to finish the job he started a thousand years ago, briefly interrupted by the nuisance of the Shadowhunters, and rule this realm, as he has ruled others. The inevitability of his victory,” he went on conversationally, “has—how should I put it—twisted my will with its nigh-infinite strength? Yes, that describes it quite well, I think.”

“So faking your own death was basically pointless,” said Magnus.

“Shinyun found me,” Ragnor admitted. “She was very highly motivated.”

   
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