Kit had only recently found out what a flail was, and now there was a rack of them hanging over his head, shiny and sharp and deadly.
He had never seen anything like the weapons room at the Los Angeles Institute before. The walls and floors were white-silver granite, and granite islands rose at intervals throughout the room, making the whole place look like the arms and armor exhibit at a museum. There were staves and maces, cleverly designed walking sticks, necklaces, boots and padded jackets that concealed slim, flat blades for stabbing and throwing. Morning stars covered in terrible spikes, and crossbows of all sizes and types.
The granite islands themselves were covered with stacks of gleaming instruments carved out of adamas, the quartz-like substance that Shadowhunters mined from the earth and that they alone knew how to turn into swords and blades and steles. Of more interest to Kit was the shelf that held daggers.
It wasn’t that he had any particular desire to learn how to use a dagger—nothing beyond the general interest he figured most teenagers had in deadly weapons, but even then, he’d rather be issued a machine gun or a flamethrower. But the daggers were works of art, their hilts inlaid with gold and silver and precious gems—blue sapphires, cabochon rubies, glimmering patterns of thorns etched in platinum and black diamonds.
He could think of at least three people at the Shadow Market who’d buy them off him for good money, no questions asked.
Kit stripped off the denim jacket he was wearing—he didn’t know which of the Blackthorns it had belonged to originally; he’d woken up the morning after he’d come to the Institute to find a freshly laundered pile of clothes at the foot of his bed—and shrugged on a padded jacket. He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror at the far end of the room. Ragged blond hair, the last of fading bruises on his pale skin. He unzipped the inside pocket of the jacket and began to stuff it with sheathed daggers, picking the ones with the fanciest hilts.
The door to the weapons room swung open. Kit dropped the dagger he was holding back onto the shelf and turned around hastily. He thought he’d slipped out of his bedroom without being noticed, but if there was one thing he’d come to realize during his short time at the Institute, it was that Julian Blackthorn noticed everything, and his siblings weren’t far behind.
But it wasn’t Julian. It was a young man Kit hadn’t ever seen before, though something about him was familiar. He was tall, with tousled blond hair and a Shadowhunter’s build—broad shoulders, muscular arms, the black lines of the runic Marks they protected themselves with peeking out from the collar and cuffs of his shirt.
His eyes were an unusual dark gold color. He wore a heavy silver ring on one finger, as many of the Shadowhunters did. He raised an eyebrow at Kit.
“Like weapons, do you?” he said.
“They’re all right.” Kit backed up a little toward one of the tables, hoping the daggers in his inside pocket didn’t rattle.
The man went over to the shelf Kit had been rifling through and picked up the dagger he’d dropped. “You picked a good one here,” he said. “See the inscription on the handle?”
“It was made by one of the descendants of Wayland the Smith, who made Durendal and Cortana.” The man spun the dagger between his fingers before setting it back on its shelf. “Nothing as extraordinary as Cortana, but daggers like that will always return to your hand after you throw them. Convenient.”
Kit cleared his throat. “It must be worth a lot,” he said.
“I doubt the Blackthorns are looking to sell,” said the man dryly. “I’m Jace, by the way. Jace Herondale.”
He paused. He seemed to be waiting for a reaction, which Kit was determined not to give him. He knew the name Herondale, all right. It felt like it was the only word anyone had said to him in the past two weeks. But that didn’t mean he wanted to give the man—Jace—the satisfaction he was clearly looking for.
Jace looked unmoved by Kit’s silence. “And you’re Christopher Herondale.”
“How do you know that?” Kit said, keeping his voice flat and unenthusiastic. He hated the name Herondale. He hated the word.
“Family resemblance,” said Jace. “We look alike. In fact, you look like drawings of a lot of Herondales I’ve seen.” He paused. “Also, Emma sent me a cell phone picture of you.”
Emma. Emma Carstairs had saved Kit’s life. They hadn’t spoken much since, though—in the wake of the death of Malcolm Fade, the High Warlock of Los Angeles, everything had been in chaos. He hadn’t been anyone’s first priority, and besides, he had a feeling she thought of him as a little kid. “Fine. I’m Kit Herondale. People keep telling me that, but it doesn’t mean anything to me.” Kit set his jaw. “I’m a Rook. Kit Rook.”
“I know what your father told you. But you’re a Herondale. And that does mean something.”
“What? What does it mean?” Kit demanded.
Jace leaned back against the wall of the weapons room, just under a display of heavy claymores. Kit hoped one would fall on his head. “I know you’re aware of Shadowhunters,” he said. “A lot of people are, especially Downworlders and mundanes with the Sight. Which is what you thought you were, correct?”
“I never thought I was a mundane,” said Kit. Didn’t Shadowhunters understand how it sounded when they used that word?
Jace ignored him, though. “Shadowhunter society and history—those aren’t things most people who aren’t Nephilim know about. The Shadowhunter world is made up of families, each of which has a name that they cherish. Each family has a history we pass on to each successive generation. We bear the glories and the burdens of our names, the good and the bad our ancestors have done, through all our lives. We try to live up to our names, so that those who come after us will bear lighter burdens.” He crossed his arms over his chest. His wrists were covered in Marks; there was one that looked like an open eye on the back of his left hand. Kit had noticed all Shadowhunters seemed to have that one. “Among Shadowhunters, your last name is deeply meaningful. The Herondales have been a family who have shaped the destinies of Shadowhunters for generations. There aren’t many of us left—in fact, everyone thought I was the last. Only Jem and Tessa had faith you existed. They looked for you for a long time.”
Jem and Tessa. Along with Emma, they had helped Kit escape the demons who had murdered his father. And they had told him a story: the story of a Herondale who had betrayed his friends and fled, starting a new life away from other Nephilim. A new life and a new family line.
“I heard about Tobias Herondale,” he said. “So I’m the descendant of a big coward.”
“People are flawed,” said Jace. “Not every member of your family is going to be awesome. But when you see Tessa again, and you will, she can tell you about Will Herondale. And James Herondale. And me, of course,” he added, modestly. “As far as Shadowhunters go, I’m a pretty big deal. Not to intimidate you.”
“I don’t feel intimidated,” said Kit, wondering if this guy was for real. There was a gleam in Jace’s eye as he spoke that indicated that he might not take what he was saying all that seriously, but it was hard to be sure. “I feel like I want to be left alone.”