City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
The Los Angeles Institute, December 2007
On the day Emma Carstairsâ€™s parents were killed, the weather was perfect.
On the other hand the weather was usually perfect in Los Angeles. Emmaâ€™s mother and father dropped her off on a clear winter morning at the Institute in the hills behind the Pacific Coast Highway, overlooking the blue ocean. The sky was a cloudless expanse that stretched from the cliffs of the Pacific Palisades to the beaches at Point Dume.
A report had come in the night before of demonic activity near the beach caves of Leo Carrillo. The Carstairs had been assigned to look into it. Later Emma would remember her mother tucking a windblown strand of hair behind her ear as she offered to draw a Fearless rune on Emmaâ€™s father, and John Carstairs laughing and saying he wasnâ€™t sure how he felt about newfangled runes. He was fine with what was written in the Gray Book, thanks very much.
At the time, though, Emma was impatient with her parents, hugging them quickly before pulling away to race up the Institute steps, her backpack bouncing between her shoulders as they waved good-bye from the courtyard.
Emma loved that she got to train at the Institute. Not only did her best friend, Julian, live there, but she always felt as if she were flying into the ocean when she went inside it. It was a massive structure of wood and stone at the end of a long pebbled drive that wound through the hills. Every room, every floor, looked out over the ocean and the mountains and the sky, rippling expanses of blue and green and gold. Emmaâ€™s dream was to climb up onto the roof with Julesâ€”though, so far theyâ€™d been foiled by parentsâ€”to see if the view stretched all the way to the desert in the south.
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