The Fiery Trial (Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy #8)(8) by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson

“Maybe Magnus did mess up,” she said.

Clary walked right up to the low edge of the fountain, sat down, and wrapped her arms around herself. Simon stared at the fountain. Funny, he thought, how they hadn’t noticed any lights a few minutes ago as they approached. Maybe they’d just come on. The angel of the Bethesda Fountain was one of the most famous statues in all of Central Park—wings extended, water pouring off her outstretched hands.

He turned his head back down to tell Clary to look at the statue, but Clary was gone. He spun around, a full rotation. She was nowhere in sight.

“Clary?” he called.

There were no real places to conceal yourself on the terrace, and he’d looked away for only a moment. He walked halfway around the base of the fountain, calling her name several times. He looked up at the statue again. Same statue, looking down benevolently, water still dripping from her hands.

Except the statue was facing him. And he’d walked to the other side. He should have been looking at the back of it. He took a few more steps. While he never saw anything move, with every step the statue was still facing him directly, her stone expression soft and blank and angelic.

Something clicked in Simon’s head.

“Pretty sure this isn’t real,” he said. “Pretty sure.”

The evidence now seemed ridiculously obvious. The geography of the park was subtly wrong. He considered the bright, glowing sky for a moment, which was now filled with bleached-white clouds the size of entire states. They slid along the firmament, as if watching his progress in an embarrassed drive-by fashion. He was certain he could smell the Atlantic Ocean, and the rocks and stones.

“Magnus!” Simon screamed. “Are you kidding me? Magnus! Jem! Catarina!”

No Magnus. No Jem. No Catarina. No Clary.

“Okay,” Simon said to himself. “You have been in worse situations than this. This is just weird. That’s all. Just weird. Just very, very weird. Weird’s okay. Weird’s normal.

“I am in some kind of dream. Something has happened. And I’m going to figure this out. What would I do if this were D and D?”

It was as good a question as any, except the answer had to do with rolling a D20, so maybe it wasn’t actually that helpful.

“Is this a trap? Why would they send us to a trap? It must be a game. It’s a puzzle. If she was in trouble, I’d know.”

That was interesting. He had the sudden and complete knowledge that if Clary were hurt, he would absolutely know it. He didn’t feel any hurt. He did feel an absence, a pull to locate her.

As this thought occurred to him, a very unusual thing happened—namely, the great stone angel of Bethesda Fountain flapped her wings and flew straight up into the night sky. As she flew, the base of the fountain remained connected to her feet and pulled up the fountain like it was a plant. The massive reservoir of the fountain became unmoored and started to pull toward the sky. The bricks and mortar tore, and a root network of pipes was revealed, and a raw hole in the earth that rapidly filled with water. The ice on the lake cracked all at once, and the entire terrace started to flood. Simon backed up toward the steps as the water spilled out. He retreated slowly, step by step, until the water evened. The lake now incorporated the terrace, eight steps high. The fountain and the angel were gone.

“That,” Simon said, “was weirder than normal.”

As he spoke, a sound seemed to tear the night in two. It was a chord, a pure, thundering harmonic that rattled the tympanic bones in his head and physically shook him to his knees. The clouds scattered, as if in fear, and the moon shone clear and full above him. It was a bright yellow, so bright he could barely look at it. He had to shield his eyes and look down.

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