Jace wasn't there. Why wasn't he there? Clary tapped her fingers nervously on the banister. She had her bags surrounding her, all ready for traveling. Again, she thought the same question over and over.
It was a bit odd for their positions to be switched; her the late one and Jace the prompt one. She wanted to get to Ironwork for Isabelle and Simon as soon as possible so they'd have enough time to catch up after three years.
One of the mundane maids passed her quickly. "Dorothea," the woman stopped, keeping her eyes on the ground, "Do you know where my husband went?"
"He left in the morning, miss."
She sighed heavily. "Well, does he have all his things packed for Idris?"
Dorothea nodded, still staring at her shoes. "How about you go get them and bring them down so we can be as ready as possible?"
She nodded once again, obediently, and marched up the stairs. She sat on a step, knowing one thing - when he got back from what she knew he was doing, there'd be hell to pay.
The end of the day reached slowly for the border guards in Idris. The sun barely had an hour left in the sky. Amil Pangborn wiped the sweat off his brow and stretched his aching limbs. The day had been filled up; wooden carts coming in and out through the monstrous, metal doors were all thoroughly inspected.
"No Downworlder can escape on my watch." Pangborn thought smugly.
Just last week, there had been two successful escapes from the Gard, and the initial burning that would've normally taken place afterwards. The two shadowhunters on guard duty were given the punishment in their place. Some may have feared to take the job, but Amil prided himself in his ability to sniff out the werewolf under the piles of seraph blades, or a warlock strategically strapped underneath a wagon.
"You think the same man is doing all this?" Pangborn spat to his brother. He glanced his way and grinned devilishly.
"Not one man. A whole league. At least 20, with one leader to plan the escapes. No one cleverer or smarter alive."
"Those rumors aren't true, are they? About the letters to Valentine and Wayland?" one man asked to the side. A crowd usually gathered around the few entrances to the city, watching the failed escapes with pleasure, like one would enjoy cutting the wings off a butterfly.
"They are. The great Valentine fooled from under his very nose. Ragnor Fell escaped, and the only sign was the small piece of paper with a drawing, so he says, right on his desk. Had the depiction of a flower, roughly identified as that one that blooms at midnight, only grown in the wild fields of Alicante. Underneath was the stamp of an 'M.' They call him the 'Midnight Flower.' Can't tell you how mad Valentine was. " Amil explained expertly. He couldn't recall how many times he'd heard that story.
He kept his voice low then; speaking any kind of negative word about the Clave was punishable by death. "Nothing's been said yet, but I think there's been more of this, and going on longer than suggested. Not too many people are happy with this new...establishment." Not me, I'm saying! I swear-"
He as cut off by the sound of rattling cart wheels, down by the end of the cobblestone street. Driving the diseased-ridden beast of a horse, an old harpy sat, slumped toward the reins, shoulders drawn in tight. Her hair plastered against her greasy head, she shook her head at the Pangborn brothers raising a hand to stop her, the matted, stringy strands flying. "Must be mistaken, Amil. No Downworlders in my cart." she cackled. It certainly didn't appear so. He inspected the inside; completely empty except for the layer of dirt covering the wooden boards.
Amil hadn't suspected anything from this old woman anyway; he recognized her as one of the women in the front row of the Accords Hall, watching the sentencing for each Downworlder, calling for death, yelling "Down to the Downworlders, Forever the Nephilim!"
"Can't be too cautious, woman."
"All the same." the old bat grinned, showing of more missing teeth than there was still in her gums, the front chipped, and all rotting and crooked beyond compare.
Amil withheld a shudder and grimaced, " On your way, then. Can't have you holding the line up. Some want to see the burning of Maia Roberts tonight."
"Ah, yes. Forgotten all about that. Awful trial yesterday, she had. Almost killed one shadowhunter with those awful teeth of hers. Sentenced to torture with silver and then burned." she grinned at him again, voice crackling like static occasionally.
"Yes, we know that. On your way you old hag! get on home."
She only smiled at Pangborn, with those awful teeth of her's, her face sagging with her sallow, wrinkled skin. She shook the reins, and the beast started slowly, through the gates, the same pace until they were out of sight.
Amil's brother laughed. "She unnerved, did she?"
"It was just her ugly teeth." Amil swallowed, "No shadowhunter like that should be let to live. Gives us a bad name. Dirties up the good, old name, those people do. Can't stand the sight of them, those filthy creatures. Almost as bad as those downworlders." Amil spat to the side.
His brother chuckled, but stayed silent. There would be more teasing when they returned to their mother's house. Amil scratched his balding scalp "D'you think it's about time to close the gates? Sun's almost past the horizon."
"Might as well lock up for the night. No one else is likely to be coming." Each took a door and pushed, the rune covered doors creaking with protest. Slowly they came together at last, just as a dozen warriors ran up with horses behind them, fully dressed in gear.
"Where is that old woman, Pangborn?"
"She passed just under half an hour, sir." Amil stammered.
"WHAT?! THAT MAN WAS THE MIDNIGHT FLOWER! HE'S GOT MAIA ROBERTS WITH HIM AS WELL!" the man's twisted face was turning a deep shade of red, veins popping out of his forehead and neck.
"But...but she couldn't have, sir! I checked the cart myself, nothing but dirt-"
"The werewolf was hiding IN a compartment underneath the boards, you idiot!"
"Stop your stuttering, you fool! Open the gates, and then you'll be allowed to die!"
The brother's pulled on the handles with the last of their strength, but the door still moved unnervingly slow. "Faster, you weaklings! He already has a head start on us. I SAID FASTER!"
The opening, finally wide enough for two horses to run side by side, the shadowhunters galloped into the darkening dusk. The leader, held back for just the time to say, "You're dead Pangborn."
Loosely based on "The Scarlet Pimpernel."