It’s been more than 2.5 years since Entertainment Weekly shared the news that Magnus Bane would get another book series after The Bane Chronicles. Now fast forward to today and we’re almost at the finish line.
The Red Scrolls of Magic, co-authored by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu, will finally be published tomorrow so I’ve gathered up the information that I had bookmarked:
- The synopsis:
“All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation—a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.
Now Magnus and Alec must race across Europe to track down the Crimson Hand and its elusive new leader before the cult can cause any more damage. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their romantic getaway has been sidetracked, demons are now dogging their every step, and it is becoming harder to tell friend from foe. As their quest for answers becomes increasingly dire, Magnus and Alec will have to trust each other more than ever—even if it means revealing the secrets they’ve both been keeping.” (x)
- The book is going to begin with an Arthur Schopenhauer quote: “To desire immortality is to desire the eternal perpetuation of a great mistake.”
- The Red Scrolls of Magic is set during City of Fallen Angels when Magnus and Alec (our main characters) are on vacation in Europe.
- “Magnus and Alec are going to get abducted aboard the Orient Express” and Alec will be shirtless while he fights a demon on the train. They will meet/save a werewolf called Juliette. (The Land I Lost)
- Lots of characters from previous books are going to show up: Tessa, Raphael, Lily, Aline and Helen, Izzy (see the snippet below), Jace and Clary and Asmodeus.
- “In The Red Scrolls of Magic, Alec gets to know Raphael as someone who clearly knows Magnus pretty well. Since Magnus has become pretty well acquainted with Alec’s Shadowhunter friends, it was fun to write Alec’s world expanding as he gets to know the Downworlders Magnus cares for and see better from their point of view, which will put him on the path to not only the relationship he and Magnus are going to have, but the man Alec will become. Raphael is at a party the Downworlders are throwing to celebrate the defeat of Valentine, and by attending it Alec can see how under threat the Downworlders felt, and how proud they are to have their own heroes. (A dryad asks Raphael for his autograph. Raphael writes “LEAVE ME ALONE” on a leaf. Alec is amazed to find someone worse at parties than himself.)” (x)
- Magnus will think about his old love Etta and the problem she had with his immortality. “Magnus’s fear that nobody will ever love all of him–his immortality, his magic, and his soft heart–enough to stay” will be addressed in RSoM.
- Magnus and Alec will work together with “disgruntled former Crimson Hand member Shinyun Jung to find and disband the group [cult]“
- “Alec, Helen and Aline–are going to mount a pretty major rescue mission up against a kind of demon you haven’t seen before.“
- About Helen and Aline: “we’ll see Helen and Aline meet and fall in love in TEC” and their “first kiss on page”
“In TROSM, Aline reacts badly to the sight of the specific type of demon that attacked her [in City of Glass], and Helen perceives that and reaches out to comfort her. It’s one of the things that makes Aline begin to fall in love with Helen.“
- Cassie described The Red Scrolls of Magic as a rom-com.
Cassie also shared The Red Scrolls of Magic snippets on her tumblr and Instagram, sometimes coupled with art:
The two of them went straight for the bed, kissing and pulling and stumbling over each other, nearly falling over in the process. They tumbled onto the mattress in a tangle and clawed their way toward the headboard, hands in each other’s hair, on each other’s bodies, stirring each other to incandescent life.
Magnus tore himself away from Alec’s lips and yanked futilely at the knots that kept the bedsheet looped around the Shadowhunter’s body. “How did you tie this thing on?” he growled.
Alec, lips kiss-swollen and eyes dazed with desire, didn’t seem able to respond — he just went for the buttons on Magnus’ shirt with shaking fingers before eventually giving up and just tearing the garment apart down the middle, sending buttons flying across the room. Finally, more out of frustration that expediency, Magnus flicked his wrist at the bedsheet as if shooing away a fly and sent the entire thing fluttering somewhere over the Indian Ocean.
Alec raised his head to watch the sheet disappear. When he looked back at Magnus, the warlock was gazing down at him with a deep seriousness in his gold-green eyes. “You spend your entire life looking out and sacrificing for people,” Magnus said, and his gentle fingers traced their way along Alec’s bare torso, making him shiver. “It’s your turn to just lay back and relax …”
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I asked @cassandrajp for an illustration of a scene from The Eldest Curses for Pride Month and she graciously agreed — Magnus and Alec and Aline and Helen, on their way to a Downworlder masked ball in Venice, Italy. (Alec: "Please stop hitting me in the head with your beak.") Happy June! 🙂
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(art by Cassandra Jean )Happy birthday Magnus! It's your day and Jace had given you a duck again. At least you have your gorgeous family to make up for it! And now: a snippet from TEC Book One: "Uh,” said Alec. “Can you fly a hot air balloon?” “Of course!” Magnus declared. “Did I ever tell you about the time I stole a hot air balloon to rescue the Queen of France?" Alec grinned as if Magnus was making a joke, but Marie-Antoinette had actually been quite a handful. “It’s just,” Alec said thoughtfully, “I’ve seen you try to work your own DVR, and it wasn't pretty." He stood to admire the balloon, which was entirely glamored. As far as the humans sitting on the Eiffel Tower were concerned, Alec was solemnly regarding the open air. “I’m hardly going to crash the balloon into a chimney,” Magnus protested. “I’m considering how to protect you if we crash the balloon into a chimney.” As he moved past Magnus, Alec stopped and pushed a wayward lock of hair off Magnus’s brow. His touch was light, tender but casual, as if Alec did not even really realize he was doing it. Magnus had not even realized his own hair was in his eyes. Magnus ducked his head and smiled. The idea of being protected was strange to him, but he felt like he could get used to it. He used his chair as a step and climbed onto the swaying platform. The moment he planted both feet on the floor, it felt as if he were standing on solid ground. He offered his hand. "Trust me." Alec hesitated, then accepted Magnus’s hand. His grip was strong, and his smile sweet. “I do.” He followed Magnus, vaulting lightly over the railing onto the platform. They sat down at the table, and the balloon, bouncing like a row boat on the choppy ocean, drifted away unseen from the Eiffel Tower. Seconds later, they were floating high above the skyline as the sprawl of Paris expanded in every direction as far as the eye could see.
“Great,” said a voice from the back of the group. “Because I want to talk to Alexander Lightwood in private.”
Helen Blackthorn stepped away from the crowd and stood, her arms crossed, staring Alec down.
Aline froze, staring. Alec’s first impulse was to run and jump out the window. Then he remembered how high above the ground they were.
Helen herded him into the records room, which jutted out from the side of the Rome Institute so there were windows on all sides, and only one door. Aline followed them. She had gone entirely quiet and was being no help. Leon followed along, giving Alec a little wave.
Helen stood in front of the only exit, and said:
“So, Alec. First you refuse to come to Rome for questioning, then you hightail it out of Venice from the scene of a crime, and head for Rome under your own steam. Rome, which is where our informant Mori Shu told us the cult of the Crimson Hand was headed. That was the last piece of information we received from him, before he was found dead.”
“Are you following me?” Alec asked.
“I don’t have to follow you,” said Helen. “Wherever you go, you leave a trail of dead bodies and collapsed mansions! Where is Magnus Bane? What happened in Venice?”
Helen was clearly about to level several more questions when Aline waved a hand in between them. “Excuse me.”
“What!” Helen seemed to notice her for the first time. Their eyes met.
“Hey,” said Aline.
There was a momentary pause.
“Hi,” said Helen.
More silence followed.
“Sorry,” said Alec. “I was too busy getting interrogated to make proper introductions. Helen Blackthorn, this is Aline Penhallow. Aline, this is Helen.”
“And I’m Leon,” said Leon. Aline did not even glance at him.
Helen kept staring at Aline. Alec wondered if she was suspicious of her as well.
“Right,” Helen muttered at last. “Anyway, I have questions.”
“I have a question too,” said Aline, and swallowed. “Who do you think you are, Helen Blackthorn, and why are you talking to my friend as if he’s a criminal?”
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Excerpt from RED SCROLLS OF MAGIC, the first in the Eldest Curses trilogy starring Magnus and Alec. Red Scrolls comes out March 2019 — and remember if you can't keep track of what comes next in the Shadowhunter universe, click the schedule of books in my bio! #malec #tsc #tec @wes_chu
Aline was still kneeling beside Helen, holding her hand.
“Just in case we do die,” she said. “I know we just met, Helen, and you will probably think I’m crazy. I probably am crazy, but from the moment I saw you—”
“We’re not going to die,” Alec broke in. “I have to go find Magnus. Helen, how high can you jump?”
“Alec!” Aline almost screamed. “It is rude to interrupt!”
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Happy birthday Izzy, you brave kind demon-slayer you. Lovely-adorable art by Cassandra Jean! Have a birthday snippet from Red Scrolls of Magic, due out March 5, 2019: Izzy and Alec, power sibs. (Remember this takes place during City of Fallen Angels and does not reflect either Alec or Isabelle’s current feelings about Simon!) Alec dodged Isabelle’s question with one of his own. “How is Simon?” It was a measure of Alec’s desperation that he tried this, as he did not much like the idea of his sister dating a vampire. Though for a vampire, Simon seemed like a good enough guy. Alec didn’t know him that well. Simon talked a lot. Isabelle laughed, a little too loudly. “Fine. I mean, I don’t know. Why should I care? I see him occasionally, and he seems fine, but I don’t care. That vampire is nothing but a toy to me. A little fanged toy.” Isabelle had dated plenty of people, but she never got defensive like this. Maybe that was what made Alec feel uneasy about Simon: that it seemed as if, for the first time, his invincible sister could be hurt. Alec would never allow anyone to hurt Isabelle. “Just so long as you don’t become his chew toy,” said Alec. “Listen, I need a favor.” Isabelle’s tone went sharp. “Why are you using the voice?" "What voice?" "The 'I'm a Shadowhunter on official business' voice. Alec, you're on vacation. You're supposed to be having fun." "I'm having fun." "I don't believe you.” "Are you going to help me or not?" Isabelle laughed. "Of course I am. What mischief are you and Magnus getting into?" Alec had promised Magnus he wouldn’t tell anyone, but surely Isabelle didn’t count….
“I am trying not to make eye contact with anyone here,” said Raphael. “And I’m not a snitch for Shadowhunters. Or a fan of talking to people, of any kind, in any place.”
Alec rolled his eyes. At this point, a faerie woman came twirling through. She had leaves in her updo and was swathed in ribbons and ivy and not much else. She tripped on a trailing line of ivy and Alec caught her.
“Good reflexes!” she said brightly. “Also great arms. Would you be interested in a night of tumultuous forbidden passion, with an option to extend to seven years?”
“Um. I’m gay,” Alec said.
He was not used to saying that casually, to any random person. It was strange to say it, and feel both relief and a shadow of his old fear, twined together.
Of course, the declaration might not mean much to faeries. The faerie woman accepted this with a shrug, then looked down at the floor where Raphael was sitting sulking, and lit up. Something about the leather jacket or the scowl seemed to appeal to her strongly.
“How about you, Vampire Without A Cause?”
“I’m not gay,” said Raphael. “I’m not straight. I’m not interested.”
“Your sexuality is ‘not interested’?” Alec asked curiously.
Raphael said: “That’s right.”
The faerie thought for a moment, then ventured: “I can also assume the appearance of a tree!”
Raphael looked scandalized. “Young lady tree person, reconsider your life and your choices. In church.”
The faerie frowned. “Oh, are you Raphael Santiago? I’ve heard about you.”
Raphael made a gesture of dismissal. “Have you heard I like it when people go away?”
A slow sweet song with a shivery beat began. Alec would not have thought the dance floor could become more crowded, but it happened. Dozens of masked Downworlders in formal wear who had previously been standing near the walls converged on the floor. Alec found himself standing awkwardly alone in the center of the room as couples twirled around him in unison. Crowns of thorns and towering multi-colored feathers blocked his vision. He looked around in alarm for an escape route.
Instead he saw Magnus. Magnus all in silver and black, like the night sky. “May I have this dance, sir?”
“I was coming to find you,” said Alec, a little breathless.
“I saw you coming.” Magnus’s gorgeous lips curved beneath his shining mask. “We found each other.”
He moved in close to Alec, one hand settling on his lower back, lacing their fingers together with the other, and kissed him. The glancing touch of his mouth was like a ray of light on water, illuminating and transforming. Alec moved instinctively closer, longing to be illuminated and transformed again, then remembered they had a mission. He should remain on task.
“I met a Shadowhunter here called Helen Blackthorn,” he murmured against Magnus’s mouth. “She said—”
Magnus kissed him again.
“Something fascinating, I’m sure,” he said. “You haven’t answered my question.”
“May I have this dance?”
“Of course,” said Alec. “I mean—I would love this dance. It’s only that I know we should work this out.”
Magnus drew in a breath and nodded.
“We will. Tell me.”
He had been smiling before, but the smile had faded. Instead there was a certain burdened set to Magnus’s shoulders. Magnus felt guilty, Alec realized for the first time, with shattering dismay. Magnus felt as if he was spoiling Alec’s vacation when the truth was that there would be no holiday without Magnus, no shine of magic and no shocks of joy, no lights and no music.
Alec reached up and touched the bright silvery mask Magnus wore. He could see his own face reflected in the mask as if it were a mirror, eyes wide and blue against the glittering carnival of the Venetian ballroom. He almost did not recognize himself, he looked so happy.
Then he pushed the mask up and he could see Magnus’s face. That was better.
“Let’s dance first,” he said.
“What was that noise?” Alec asked, mildly alarmed.
“Oh, it’s just Jace,” Isabelle said dismissively. “Hands off, Jace! He called me.”
“No, the sound like a thousand trashcan lids falling out of the sky.”
“Oh, Jace was swinging a big axe on a chain when you called,” Isabelle said. “Jace! Your axe is stuck in the wall. Don’t worry about unimportant things, Alec. Update me on the important stuff. How is Magnus, and I don’t mean his wellbeing?“
“I mean, how are his skills, and I’m not talking about the magical ones,” Isabelle clarified.
“I understand what you mean!” said Alec.
Alec did not exactly have an answer for Isabelle on that particular topic. When he and Magnus had been dating in New York, there had been several times when Alec really wanted to take things farther, but he wasn’t sure of how he felt. He was scared by the immensity of how much he felt. They had only ever made out. Magnus had never pushed. Then the war came, and after the war Magnus asked him on vacation to Europe, and Alec said yes. Alec had presumed they both understood that meant Alec was ready to go anywhere and do anything with Magnus. He was nervous, but he wanted to try all of it: having a future together, going as far as they could go, in every sense of the word.
Only Magnus had not made a move. Magnus was always so careful with Alec. In this case, Alec wished he was being less careful, because Alec was not very good at conversations, especially awkward conversations about feelings—which were all conversations about feelings—and he could not work out how to ask.
Surely Magnus wanted to. Didn’t he?
“Helen,” Alec said. “The Clave tells us not to trust Downworlders. Despite the Accords, despite everything, we all get indoctrinated, and we —” He broke off, looking up at the clear, cold stars. “I used to follow the rules because I thought it would keep everyone I cared about safe,” he said. “But I’ve started to realize that everyone I care about is a bigger group and a different group than the Clave was built to accept.”
“So what are you suggesting we do?” Helen said.
“We change the Clave,” said Alec. “From inside. We make new Laws. Better ones.”
“Institute Heads can suggest new laws,” said Aline. “Your mother —”
“I want to do this myself,” said Alec. “I’ve realized — I don’t need to change. And neither do you, Helen, or you, Aline. It’s the world that needs to change, and we’re going to be the ones to change it.”
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Happy Birthday Alec Lightwood! You deserve the sun moon and stars. A tiny snippet just for Instagram from the Red Scrolls of Magic (and check my stories for a tiny treat 😉 ****************** “I might have gone a little overboard,” Magnus admitted. “But I wanted to lay all the grandeur and dazzle of Europe at your feet. I wanted you to have fun.” "I have had fun,” Alec said. “But I didn’t need any of that. They were just places. You don’t have to set any scene to convince me. I don’t need Paris, or Venice, or Rome. I just want you.”
A group of drunken faeries stumbled past. The celebration was noticeably ratcheting up in decibels and wildness. Catarina waited until they were alone again to continue. “You’re in this mess and you still have a Shadowhunter with you?” she demanded. “Magnus, I knew you were seeing him, but this is a long way past having fun. It’s his duty to tell the Clave about you founding this cult. They’ll hear the rumor you’re lead-ing it eventually, whether your Lightwood tells them or not. The Nephilim won’t look any further for a culprit. The Nephilim do not admit weakness. There is no room in their hearts for pity or mercy. I have seen the children of the Angel murder their own for breaking their precious Law. Magnus, we’re talking about your life.”
“Catarina,” said Magnus, “I love him.”
She stared at him. Her eyes were the color of the ocean, swept by storms and with treasure sunk below the waves. She had worn a plague mask during real plagues. She had seen so many tragedies, and they both knew the worst tragedies were born of love.
“Are you sure?” she said quietly. “You always hope for the best, but this time hope is too dangerous. This one could hurt you worse than the others. This one could get you killed.”
Alec gave a gratifying, wondering, “Oh,” as the train emerged around a bend into the heart of the French countryside. Dense, dark green forest framed mirrored lakes, and in the distance, white snowcapped mountains watched over the landscape. Closer, a rocky promontory rose like the prow of a ship from the distinctive tidy grid of bright vineyards below.
Magnus watched the landscape, then Alec’s face, then the landscape again. Seeing this with him was like seeing the world made new. Magnus had been through the Parc du Morvan before, but for the first time in a long while, he felt wonder too.
“At some point,” said Alec, “we’ll cross the Idris wards, and the whole train will jump from the near border to the far border in an instant. I wonder if we’ll be able to tell.”
There was a yearning note to his voice, though Alec had not lived in Idris since he was small. The Nephilim always had someplace they could return to, no matter what, a country of enchanted forests and rolling fields, and in its center, a city of shining glass towers. Given by the Angel. Magnus was a man with no homeland, and had been for longer than he could remember. Odd, to see the compass of Alec’s soul swing around surely and point home. The compass of Magnus’s soul spun freely within him, and he’d long been used to that.
Their hands lingered together, Magnus’s fingers curling around Alec’s as they looked out at heavy clouds rolling in from the east.
Magnus pointed at one of the cluster of storm clouds. “That long one looks like a serpent that tied itself into a knot. That looks like the croissant I had this morning. That one . . . a llama, I guess? Or possibly my dad? Bye, Dad! Hope not to see you soon!” He blew a sarcastic kiss.
“Is this like the thing with the stars?” said Alec. “It’s romantic to name the stuff you see in the sky?”
Magnus was silent.
“You can talk about him if you want,” said Alec.
“My father the demon, or my stepfather who tried to kill me?” Magnus asked.
“How’s Paris?” asked Jace idly. “If you’re not having fun, you could come back early.”
“Paris is nice,” said Alec. “How are things?”
“Well, my business is looking great and fighting demons, and business is good,” said Jace.
“Magnus Bane! I thought it was you.”
Magnus turned toward the voice. “Johnny Rook! What are you doing in Paris?”
Johnny Rook was one of the rare mundanes who had the ability to see the Shadow World. He was usually based at the Los Angeles Shadow Market.
Magnus surveyed Johnny unenthusiastically. He wore a black trench coat and sunglasses (though it was night), with short Caesar-cut dirty blond hair and five o’clock scruff. There was something slightly off about his face: Magnus had heard a rumor that Johnny had hired faeries to permanently magically enhance his features, but if it was true, Magnus felt Johnny had wasted his money. The man was also known as Rook the Crook, and he was committed to his aesthetic.
About to ask the same of you,” said Johnny, avidly curious.
“Vacation,” Magnus said noncommittally. “How is your son? Cat, is it?”
“Kit. He’s a good boy. Growing like a sprout. Quick hands, very useful in my line of work.”
“You have your child picking pockets?”
“Some of that. Some passing on trifles like keys. Some sleight of hand. All sorts. He’s multitalented.”
“Isn’t he about ten years old?” Magnus asked.
Johnny shrugged. “He’s very advanced.”
“Looking for anything special at the Market? Perhaps I can be of service.”
Magnus closed his eyes and counted to ten slowly. Against his better judgment he said casually, “What do you know about the Crimson Hand?”
Johnny rolled his eyes. “Culties. Worship Asmodeus.”
Magnus’s heart gave a hard, spiky thump. “Asmodeus?”
Would he have to tell Alec that Asmodeus was his father? Alec had never asked who Magnus’s demon parent was and Magnus had no desire to tell him. Most warlocks were fathered or mothered by ordinary demons. It was Magnus’s bad luck that his father was one of Hell’s Nine Princes.
“Asmodeus?” he said again to Johnny. “Are you sure?”
Magnus cast a few protective spells to ward them as they slept, then joined Alec on the sofa, climbing over one arm and crawling on top of Alec like Chairman Meow would have if they were home. He draped himself across Alec’s body, tucked his face into the curve of Alec’s neck, and inhaled the scent of him. Alec’s arm went around Magnus’s back, stroking a shoulder blade. Magnus dropped a kiss on the underside of Alec’s jaw and rubbed his cheek lightly against the rough scrape of Alec’s two-day stubble. He felt Alec draw in a shuddering breath.
“Come and hold me,” Alec whispered. “I want you next to me.”
Magnus glanced up at him. Alec’s eyes were closed and he was breathing deeply.
Come and hold me. I want you next to me. Maybe it was easier for Alec to say things like that when he was half asleep. It hadn’t occurred to Magnus that Alec might feel self-conscious, saying things like that. He’d thought Alec didn’t want to say them.
Magnus did as requested and curled his body around Alec’s. Their legs tangled together. Magnus traced a forefinger across Alec’s cheek, down to his mouth. Alec’s lashes were long, thick, and dark, curving to touch the tops of his cheekbones. His lips were full and soft, his hair a tumble of rough black silk. He looked vulnerable in a way that was hard to square, sometimes, with the cold-eyed, arrow-slinging warrior he became in battle…
As they walked back toward the car, Magnus glanced at Alec and tossed his keys from hand to hand.
“We’ll go faster if two of us are sharing driving duties,” Alec offered hopefully.
“Ever driven stick before?”
Alec hesitated. “Can’t be harder than shooting a bow and arrow while riding a horse at a full gallop.”
“It’s definitely not,” said Magnus. “Besides, you have superhuman reflexes. What’s the worst that could happen?”
He threw Alec the keys and slid into the passenger’s seat with a smile. Alec grinned and jogged over to the driver’s seat.
Magnus suggested some practice loops in the parking lot.
“You have to lift your left foot as you’re applying gas with the right foot,” he said. Alec looked at him.
“Oh no,” he said dryly. “I have to move both feet at the same time. How can I possibly handle such demands of my agility.” He turned back, applied the gas, and was rewarded with a high-pitched screech, like a banshee in a trap. Magnus smiled but did not say anything.
Soon enough, of course, Alec was maneuvering competently enough around the lot.
“Ready to take the show on the road?” Magnus asked.
Alec only answered with a smile as he peeled out of the lot. A whoop of delight and surprise escaped from his throat as the Maserati fishtailed on the narrow street. They turned onto a straightaway and Alec punched the acceleration.
“We’re going very fast,” said Shinyun. “Why are we going so fast?”
The low friendly growl of the little red convertible filled the air. Alec glanced over to see Magnus put on his sunglasses and rest his elbow on the door as he leaned over the side and smiled at the rush of the wind across his face.
Alec was glad to be able to give Magnus a break. Also, he hadn’t realized this kind of wild, dramatic driving was a thing available to him. When he thought of cars he thought of Manhattan: far too many vehicles, not nearly enough road, chugging slowly and unhappily through the veins of the city. There, being on foot was liberation. Here in the Tuscan countryside, though, this car was its own kind of liberation, a thrilling kind. He looked over at his unbearably handsome boyfriend, hair blown back and eyes closed behind his shades. Sometimes, his life was okay. He willfully ignored the grumpy warlock ride-along in the backseat.
For the next hour, they followed the Apennines through the heart of Tuscany. To their left were sunset-soaked golden fields spanning to the horizon, and to their right were rows of stone villas on hilltops overlooking a green vineyard sea. Cypress trees whispered in the wind.
It was black night by the time they reached what Magnus said was called the Chianti mountain range. Alec didn’t look. He felt pretty confident handling the Maserati by now, but managing a stick shift along the many sharp turns while driving near the edge of a cliff in the dark was an entirely separate and existentially threatening experience.
What made the situation even more harrowing was that the headlights only bought them a few dozen feet of visibility, so all they could see were a narrow stretch of road in front, the sheer face of the mountain, and the cliff edge that led to the open sky. Only one of those options was any good.
Alec managed to downshift correctly on the first few turns, but sweat stung his eyes.
“Are you all right?” Magnus asked.
“I’m great,” Alec said quickly.
He fought demons for a living. This was driving, a thing even mundanes did without any unusual talents or sense-enhancing runes. All he had to do was focus.
He was holding on to the steering wheel too tight, and he jerked the stick every time he had to shift around a hard turn.
Alec mistimed a particularly difficult bend that sent the car veering out of control. He tried to punch the accelerator and even out but ended up hitting the brake, sending them spinning down a steep decline.
The vista before them was not a welcome sight. It meant they were going right off a cliff.
Alec threw an arm up to shield Magnus, and Magnus grabbed his arm. Alec had felt this strange connected feeling once before, on a ship in troubled waters: Magnus reaching out for him, needing his strength. He turned his hand under Magnus’s hand and linked their fingers, feeling nothing but the warm strong impulse to reach back.
The car had just skidded off the road and dipped over the side when it came to a sudden stop, the two spinning front wheels touching nothing but air and soft blue magic. It hovered for a moment and then righted itself, and rolled back onto the narrow dirt path next to the road.
“I told you we were going too fast,” said Shinyun mildly from the backseat.
Alec held on fast to Magnus’s hand, his own clasped against Magnus’s chest. A warlock’s heart beat differently from a human’s. Magnus’s heartbeat was a reassurance in the dark. Alec already knew it well.
“It’s just a tiny little cliff,” said Magnus. “Nothing we can’t handle.”
Alec and Magnus got out of the car. Magnus threw his arms out wide as if he was going to embrace the night sky. Alec walked to the cliff’s edge and looked over, whistling at the long, sheer drop down to the ravine. He looked off to the side at a small dirt trail leading to a clearing jutting out from the cliff. He beckoned to Magnus. “It’s pretty dangerous driving at night. Maybe we should stay here.”
Magnus looked around. “Just . . . here?”
“Camping could be fun,” said Alec. “We can toast marshmallows. You’d need to summon supplies from somewhere, of course.” Shinyun had climbed out of the car and was coming over to join them. “Let me guess,” she said to Magnus in flat tones. “Darling, your idea of camping is when the hotel doesn’t have a minibar.” Magnus blinked at her.
“I beat you to that joke,” Shinyun informed him.
Magnus lifted his eyes to the night sky. Alec could see the silver curve of a crescent moon reflected in the gold of his eyes. It matched the sudden curve of Magnus’s smile.
“All right,” said Magnus. “Let’s have fun.”
Yeah,” Alec said quietly. “We’re all right. How about you?”
“Can’t complain,” said Aline. “Is Jace with you?”
“Uh, no,” said Alec.
He wondered if Aline was asking for a specific reason. He recalled that Aline and Jace had kissed in Alicante, before the war. Alec tried to think of what Isabelle usually said to girls about Jace.
“The thing is,” he added, “Jace is a beautiful antelope, who has to be free to run across the plains.”
“What?” said Aline.
Maybe Alec had gotten that wrong. “Jace is home with his, uh, his new girlfriend. You remember Clary.” Alec hoped Aline was not too heartbroken.
“Oh right, the short redhead,” she said. She fiddled with her cup for a moment, not looking at Alec, then added, “I saw you and your Downworlder. You know. In the Accords Hall.”
There was silence, awkwardness hanging like the haze in the air. Alec remembered kissing Magnus, under the eyes of the Angel and everyone he loved, and also hundreds of complete strangers. His hands had been shaking. He’d been so scared to do it, but more scared that he would lose Magnus, that one of them might die without Magnus ever knowing how Alec felt about him.
He couldn’t read Aline’s face. He’d always gotten along with Aline, who was quieter than Isabelle and Jace. He’d always felt they understood each other. Perhaps Aline could not understand him now.
“That must have been terrifying,” she said at last.
“It was,” Alec said reluctantly.
“Now that you’ve done it, are you happy?” Aline asked tentatively.
Alec did not know if she was simply curious, or if, like his dad, she thought that Alec’s life would be better if he kept hiding.
“It’s hard sometimes,” said Alec. “But I’m very happy.”
A tiny, uncertain smile flickered across Aline’s face.
“I’m glad you’re happy,” she said eventually. “Are you still together? Or is it all, oh, now he knows you like him back, he doesn’t like you as much? Maybe it was all about the lure of what he couldn’t have? Do you ever worry about that?”
“Not before right this moment,” Alec snapped.
Aline shrugged. “Sorry. I think maybe I’m just not very romantic. I’ve never understood why people get so worked up about relationships.”
Alec used to feel the same. He remembered the first time Magnus kissed him, and every cell of his body thrilled to a new song. He remembered the sensation of the pieces of the world finally fitting together in a way that made sense.
“Well,” said Alec, “we’re still together. We’re on vacation. It’s great.” He shot Aline a challenging glare, then thought of Magnus and added, more softly, “He’s great.”
“So why are you at the Rome Institute when you’re meant to be on vacation?” Aline asked.
Alec hesitated. “Can I trust you?” he asked. “Can I really trust you? I mean it. I trust you with my life, but can I trust you with more than my life?”
“That got serious fast,” said Aline with a grin, which faded as she took in Alec’s grim expression. She bit her lip. “Your fight is my fight,” she said. “You can trust me.”
Alec gazed at her for a long moment. Then he explained as much as he could, finishing with: “I need to find out if there’s been any sign of cult activity in Rome,” he said, “but I can’t tell anyone else in the Institute what I’m looking for.”
Aline absorbed this. He could see the questions in her eyes, but she pressed her lips together.
“Okay,” she said at last. “Let’s go check out the logged demonic activity in the last few weeks. I’ll just say that my friend, a hero of the war, has dropped by to visit me. I think some more visitors are due. With any luck, everyone will be too busy to ask any questions.”
Alec gave her a grateful look. Aline was kind.
“If your warlock is doing something evil, we’re going to have to cut off his head,” Aline added.
Aline was kind, but perhaps not very tactful.
Alec drew yet another arrow. This time he aimed at one of the tentacles holding Magnus. He whispered a prayer to the Angel and fired.
The arrow sank into the tentacle a few feet away from Magnus’s body. The monster reared and relaxed its grip just a bit. Magnus didn’t waste any time and, as soon as he had a hand free, began weaving it through the air rapidly. A web of blue electricity flared onto the remaining tentacle holding him. The smoke demon screamed and its tentacles jerked back, releasing Magnus. The warlock hit the roof of the train with a heavy thud and rolled, beginning to slip over the side.
Alec dove forward, sliding along the cold metal, perilously close to the edge. He brushed Magnus’s fingertips and grasped only air as Magnus tumbled off the train.
Alec lunged off the side of the train and grasped a handful of wet material. He grabbed hold of Magnus’s shirt in both hands and strained to pull him up, using all the strength he had left.
His vision blurred with the effort, but then Magnus was in his arms, blinking his still-stunned golden eyes.
“Thank you, Alexander,” Magnus said. “Alas, the octopus monster is attacking again.”
Please bear in mind that some of Cassie’s responses and snippets are over a year old so some things might have changed and not be in The Red Scrolls of Magic after all.
That’s it for today. Only one more sleep and then it’s finally release day 😀
Make sure to check TMI Source for our review of The Red Scrolls of Magic and a surprise.