He was glancing up, looking around at the walls of the cave, his dark eyes curious. He put a hand to the stone and took it away, showing her the way his palm was shining. “Look,” he said. “Phosphorescent moss.”`
“Faeries used to use it to make torches,” Clary said, remembering her Codex. “That, and trapped will-o-the-wisps in glass.”
“Come on.” Simon tugged her gently forward toward one of the darkened passages that tunneled into the wall.
“Do you know where you’re going?”
“When in doubt, head upward,” he said. “I learned that in Boy Scouts. Besides, I can see perfectly well in the dark.”
“So can I, if I make a night vision rune — oh!” Clary gasped, and they both came to a halt as Meliorn appeared before them, his white armor shining like witchlight in the dimness. There was an unpleasant expression in his pale eyes.
“So you have returned to our lands, human and liar,” he said to Clary. “You are either very brave or very stupid to desire to come before the Queen after the trick you attempted to play on her.”
“I wouldn’t say it was an attempt,” said Clary. “Last time I looked, it worked.”
“Yeah,” said Simon. Clary glanced sideways at him, and he shrugged. “Just backing you up.”
“What prevents me killing you here and taking the prize from you?” Meliorn inquired, emotionlessly.
“Two things,” Clary said, ticking them off on her fingers. “One, I don’t have it on me. He does.” She indicated Simon. “Good luck trying to kill him. Two, if you do, the Queen will never find out what I wanted, and you know she’s curious. If she wasn’t, she would have taken the whistle away from me, not let me keep it.”
Meliorn sighed. “You are the worst kind of stupid. The kind that thinks it is clever. Very well, little human Nephilim. Follow me. Perhaps, if you are lucky, the Queen will let you live.” He turned and stalked off down the passage.
“Remember when we thought faeries were little creatures who lived in toadstools and wore buttercup hats?” Clary looked over at Simon as they both began to follow the faerie knight. “Wasn’t that awesome?”
Simon grinned, a flash in the darkness, and squeezed her hand.
Clary shook her head. “There’s more to honesty than … than an arrangement of words. They say faeries can’t lie, but you lie in your intentions, your attitude, your demeanor —”
“And humans do not?” The Queen’s gaze slid across Clary and Simon. “This vampire, this Daylighter you bring everywhere with you — he is the one whose kiss you did not desire, here in my Court, is he not? Do you care for him at all, or is only the Mark of God on him that causes you to bring him with you, like a shield? And you,” she added, turning to Simon, “you who loved her, now you lend your not inconsiderable power to the project of finding the one she loves more? Where is the advantage to you?”
Simon cleared his throat. “Perhaps that is the difference between my kind and yours,” he said. “Sometimes we do things that aren’t to our advantage.”
“Ah,” said the Queen. “Stupidity, you mean.”
“I wouldn’t call it that.” Clary couldn’t help being impressed — the last time they had been here Simon had been too uncomfortable and out of his depth to say more than a few words; now he was holding his ground. “Now, do you want the ___ or not? We have business to attend to.”
“I could take it from you,” said the Queen. “The girl will not be difficult to dispose of, and as for you, Daylighter, those who serve me serve with their lives. A suicide rush could greatly inconvenience you, despite your curse.” She ran her eyes over him lingeringly.
“I am the adopted daughter of Council member Lucian Graymark,” said Clary. “I am close with the Lightwoods of the Insititute. Is it worth earning their wrath and ire just to revenge yourself upon me for tricking you? Besides — I’ve always heard that faeries appreciated cleverness. You wouldn’t want it said that you can’t appreciate a good trick, even at your own expense, would you?”
Clary saw by the narrowing of the Queen’s eyes that she had gambled hard — maybe too hard — on the faerie woman’s pride; but a moment later, the Queen was smiling, and the creatures in the walls shrieked appreciatively. “Tricky like your father,” she said, and Clary felt it like a kick in the stomach. “Very well. What would you like of me in return for the ___? I shall decide if your proposal merits a negotiation.”