Chapter no 15

A Court of Mist and Fury

I awoke four hours later.

It took me minutes to remember where I was, what had happened. And each tick of the little clock on the rosewood writing desk was a shove back-back-back into that heavy dark. But at least I wasn’t tired. Weary, but no longer on the cusp of feeling like sleeping forever.

I’d think about what happened at the Spring Court later. Tomorrow.


Mercifully, Rhysand’s Inner Circle left before I’d finished dressing.

Rhys was waiting at the front door—which was open to the small wood-and-marble antechamber, which in turn was open to the street beyond. He ran an eye over me, from the suede navy shoes—practical and comfortably made—to the knee-length sky-blue overcoat, to the braid that began on one side of my head and curved around the back. Beneath the coat, my usual flimsy attire had been replaced by thicker, warmer brown pants, and a pretty cream sweater that was so soft I could have slept in it. Knitted gloves that matched my shoes had already been stuffed into the coat’s deep pockets.

“Those two certainly like to fuss,” Rhysand said, though something about it was strained as we headed out the front door.

Each step toward that bright threshold was both an eternity and an invitation.

For a moment, the weight in me vanished as I gobbled down the details of the emerging city:

Buttery sunlight that softened the already mild winter day, a small, manicured front lawn—its dried grass near-white—bordered with a waist-high wrought iron fence and empty flower beds, all leading toward a clean street of pale cobblestones. High Fae in various forms of dress meandered by: some in coats like mine to ward against the crisp air,

some wearing mortal fashions with layers and poofy skirts and lace, some in riding leathers—all unhurried as they breathed in the salt-and-lemon-verbena breeze that even winter couldn’t chase away. Not one of them looked toward the house. As if they either didn’t know or weren’t worried that their own High Lord dwelled in one of the many marble town houses lining either side of the street, each capped with a green copper roof and pale chimneys that puffed tendrils of smoke into the brisk sky.

In the distance, children shrieked with laughter.

I staggered to the front gate, unlatching it with fumbling fingers that hardly registered the ice-cold metal, and took all of three steps into the street before I halted at the sight at the other end.

The street sloped down, revealing more pretty town houses and puffing chimneys, more well-fed, unconcerned people. And at the very bottom of the hill curved a broad, winding river, sparkling like deepest sapphire, snaking toward a vast expanse of water beyond.

The sea.

The city had been built like a crust atop the rolling, steep hills that flanked the river, the buildings crafted from white marble or warm sandstone. Ships with sails of varying shapes loitered in the river, the white wings of birds shining brightly above them in the midday sun.

No monsters. No darkness. Not a hint of fear, of despair. Untouched.

The city has not been breached in five thousand years.

Even during the height of her dominance over Prythian, whatever Rhys had done, whatever he’d sold or bartered … Amarantha truly had not touched this place.

The rest of Prythian had been shredded, then left to bleed out over the course of fifty years, yet Velaris … My fingers curled into fists.

I sensed something looming and gazed down the other end of the street.

There, like eternal guardians of the city, towered a wall of flat-topped mountains of red stone—the same stone that had been used to build some of the structures. They curved around the northern edge of Velaris, to where the river bent toward them and flowed into their shadow. To the north, different mountains surrounded the city across the river—a range of sharp peaks like fish’s teeth cleaved the city’s merry hills from the sea

beyond. But these mountains behind me … They were sleeping giants. Somehow alive, awake.

As if in answer, that undulating, slithering power slid along my bones, like a cat brushing against my legs for attention. I ignored it.

“The middle peak,” Rhys said from behind me, and I whirled, remembering he was there. He just pointed toward the largest of the plateaus. Holes and—windows seemed to have been built into the uppermost part of it. And flying toward it, borne on large, dark wings, were two figures. “That’s my other home in this city. The House of Wind.”

Sure enough, the flying figures swerved on what looked to be a wicked, fast current.

“We’ll be dining there tonight,” he added, and I couldn’t tell if he sounded irritated or resigned about it.

And I didn’t quite care. I turned toward the city again and said, “How?”

He understood what I meant. “Luck.”

“Luck? Yes, how lucky for you,” I said quietly, but not weakly, “that the rest of Prythian was ravaged while your people, your city, remained safe.”

The wind ruffled Rhys’s dark hair, his face unreadable.

“Did you even think for one moment,” I said, my voice like gravel, “to extend that luck to anywhere else? Anyone else?”

“Other cities,” he said calmly, “are known to the world. Velaris has remained secret beyond the borders of these lands for millennia. Amarantha did not touch it, because she did not know it existed. None of her beasts did. No one in the other courts knows of its existence, either.”


“Spells and wards and my ruthless, ruthless ancestors, who were willing to do anything to preserve a piece of goodness in our wretched world.”

“And when Amarantha came,” I said, nearly spitting her name, “you didn’t think to open this place as a refuge?”

“When Amarantha came,” he said, his temper slipping the leash a bit as his eyes flashed, “I had to make some very hard choices, very quickly.”

I rolled my eyes, twisting away to scan the rolling, steep hills, the sea far beyond. “I’m assuming you won’t tell me about it.” But I had to know

—how he’d managed to save this slice of peace and beauty. “Now’s not the time for that conversation.”

Fine. I’d heard that sort of thing a thousand times before at the Spring Court, anyway. It wasn’t worth dredging up the effort to push about it.

But I wouldn’t sit in my room, couldn’t allow myself to mourn and mope and weep and sleep. So I would venture out, even if it was an agony, even if the size of this place … Cauldron, it was enormous. I jerked my chin toward the city sloping down toward the river. “So what is there that was worth saving at the cost of everyone else?”

When I faced him, his blue eyes were as ruthless as the churning winter sea in the distance. “Everything,” he said.



Rhysand wasn’t exaggerating.

There was everything to see in Velaris: tea shops with delicate tables and chairs scattered outside their cheery fronts, surely heated by some warming spell, all full of chattering, laughing High Fae—and a few strange, beautiful faeries. There were four main market squares; Palaces, they were called: two on this side—the southern side—of the Sidra River, two on the northern.

In the hours that we wandered, I only made it to two of them: great, white-stoned squares flanked by the pillars supporting the carved and painted buildings that watched over them and provided a covered walkway beneath for the shops built into the street level.

The first market we entered, the Palace of Thread and Jewels, sold clothes, shoes, supplies for making both, and jewelry—endless, sparkling jeweler’s shops. Yet nothing inside me stirred at the glimmer of sunlight on the undoubtedly rare fabrics swaying in the chill river breeze, at the clothes displayed in the broad glass windows, or the luster of gold and ruby and emerald and pearl nestled on velvet beds. I didn’t dare glance at the now-empty finger on my left hand.

Rhys entered a few of the jewelry shops, looking for a present for a friend, he said. I chose to wait outside each time, hiding in the shadows beneath the Palace buildings. Walking around today was enough. Introducing myself, enduring the gawking and tears and judgment … If I had to deal with that, I might very well climb into bed and never get out.

But no one on the streets looked twice at me, even at Rhysand’s side. Perhaps they had no idea who I was—perhaps city-dwellers didn’t care

who was in their midst.

The second market, the Palace of Bone and Salt, was one of the Twin Squares: one on this side of the river, the other one—the Palace of Hoof and Leaf—across it, both crammed with vendors selling meat, produce, prepared foods, livestock, confections, spices … So many spices, scents familiar and forgotten from those precious years when I had known the comfort of an invincible father and bottomless wealth.

Rhysand kept a few steps away, hands in his pockets as he offered bits of information every now and then. Yes, he told me, many stores and homes used magic to warm them, especially popular outdoor spaces. I didn’t inquire further about it.

No one avoided him—no one whispered about him or spat on him or stroked him as they had Under the Mountain.

Rather, the people that spotted him offered warm, broad smiles. Some approached, gripping his hand to welcome him back. He knew each of them by name—and they addressed him by his.

But Rhys grew ever quieter as the afternoon pressed on. We paused at the edge of a brightly painted pocket of the city, built atop one of the hills that flowed right to the river’s edge. I took one look at the first storefront and my bones turned brittle.

The cheery door was cracked open to reveal art and paints and brushes and little sculptures.

Rhys said, “This is what Velaris is known for: the artists’ quarter. You’ll find a hundred galleries, supply stores, potters’ compounds, sculpture gardens, and anything in between. They call it the Rainbow of Velaris. The performing artists—the musicians, the dancers, the actors— dwell on that hill right across the Sidra. You see the bit of gold glinting near the top? That’s one of the main theaters. There are five notable ones in the city, but that’s the most famous. And then there are the smaller theaters, and the amphitheater on the sea cliffs … ” He trailed off as he noticed my gaze drifting back to the assortment of bright buildings ahead.

High Fae and various lesser faeries I’d never encountered and didn’t know the names of wandered the streets. It was the latter that I noticed more than the others: some long-limbed, hairless, and glowing as if an inner moon dwelled beneath their night-dark skin, some covered in opalescent scales that shifted color with each graceful step of their clawed, webbed feet, some elegant, wild puzzles of horns and hooves

and striped fur. Some were bundled in heavy overcoats, scarves, and mittens—others strode about in nothing but their scales and fur and talons and didn’t seem to think twice about it. Neither did anyone else. All of them, however, were preoccupied with taking in the sights, some shopping, some splattered with clay and dust and—and paint.

Artists. I’d never called myself an artist, never thought that far or that grandly, but …

Where all that color and light and texture had once dwelled, there was only a filthy prison cell. “I’m tired,” I managed to say.

I could feel Rhys’s gaze, didn’t care if my shield was up or down to ward against him reading my thoughts. But he only said, “We can come back another day. It’s almost time for dinner, anyway.”

Indeed, the sun was sinking toward where the river met the sea beyond the hills, staining the city pink and gold.

I didn’t feel like painting that, either. Even as people stopped to admire the approaching sunset—as if the residents of this place, this court, had the freedom, the safety of enjoying the sights whenever they wished. And had never known otherwise.

I wanted to scream at them, wanted to pick up a loose piece of cobblestone and shatter the nearest window, wanted to unleash that power again boiling beneath my skin and tell them, show them, what had been done to me, to the rest of the world, while they admired sunsets and painted and drank tea by the river.

“Easy,” Rhys murmured.

I whipped my head to him, my breathing a bit jagged.

His face had again become unreadable. “My people are blameless.”

That easily, my rage vanished, as if it had slipped a rung of the ladder it had been steadily climbing inside me and splattered on the pale stone street.

Yes—yes, of course they were blameless. But I didn’t feel like thinking more on it. On anything. I said again, “I’m tired.”

His throat bobbed, but he nodded, turning from the Rainbow. “Tomorrow night, we’ll go for a walk. Velaris is lovely in the day, but it was built to be viewed after dark.”

I’d expect nothing less from the City of Starlight, but words had again become difficult.

But—dinner. With him. At that House of Wind. I mustered enough focus to say, “Who, exactly, is going to be at this dinner?”

Rhys led us up a steep street, my thighs burning with the movement. Had I become so out of shape, so weakened? “My Inner Circle,” he said. “I want you to meet them before you decide if this is a place you’d like to stay. If you’d like to work with me, and thus work with them. Mor, you’ve met, but the three others—”

“The ones who came this afternoon.” A nod. “Cassian, Azriel, and Amren.”

“Who are they?” He’d said something about Illyrians, but Amren—the female voice I’d heard—hadn’t possessed wings. At least ones I’d glimpsed through the fogged glass.

“There are tiers,” he said neutrally, “within our circle. Amren is my Second in command.”

A female? The surprise must have been written on my face because Rhys said, “Yes. And Mor is my Third. Only a fool would think my Illyrian warriors were the apex predators in our circle.” Irreverent, cheerful Mor—was Third to the High Lord of the Night Court. Rhys went on, “You’ll see what I mean when you meet Amren. She looks High Fae, but something different prowls beneath her skin.” Rhys nodded to a passing couple, who bowed their heads in merry greeting. “She might be older than this city, but she’s vain, and likes to hoard her baubles and belongings like a firedrake in a cave. So … be on your guard. You both have tempers when provoked, and I don’t want you to have any surprises tonight.”

Some part of me didn’t want to know what manner of creature, exactly, she was. “So if we get into a brawl and I rip off her necklace, she’ll roast and eat me?”

He chuckled. “No—Amren would do far, far worse things than that. The last time Amren and Mor got into it, they left my favorite mountain retreat in cinders.” He lifted a brow. “For what it’s worth, I’m the most powerful High Lord in Prythian’s history, and merely interrupting Amren is something I’ve only done once in the past century.”

The most powerful High Lord in history.

In the countless millennia they had existed here in Prythian, Rhys—

Rhys with his smirking and sarcasm and bedroom eyes … And Amren was worse. And older than five thousand years.

I waited for the fear to hit; waited for my body to shriek to find a way to get out of this dinner, but … nothing. Maybe it’d be a mercy to be ended—

A broad hand gripped my face—gently enough not to hurt, but hard enough to make me look at him. “Don’t you ever think that,” Rhysand hissed, his eyes livid. “Not for one damned moment.”

That bond between us went taut, and my lingering mental shields collapsed. And for a heartbeat, just as it had happened Under the Mountain, I flashed from my body to his—from my eyes to his own.

I had not realized … how I looked …

My face was gaunt, my cheekbones sharp, my blue-gray eyes dull and smudged with purple beneath. The full lips—my father’s mouth—were wan, and my collarbones jutted above the thick wool neckline of my sweater. I looked as if … as if rage and grief and despair had eaten me alive, as if I was again starved. Not for food, but … but for joy and life—

Then I was back in my body, seething at him. “Was that a trick?”

His voice was hoarse as he lowered his hand from my face. “No.” He angled his head to the side. “How did you get through it? My shield.”

I didn’t know what he was talking about. I hadn’t done anything. Just

… slipped. And I didn’t want to talk about it, not here, not with him. I stormed into a walk, my legs—so damn thin, so useless—burning with every step up the steep hill.

He gripped my elbow, again with that considerate gentleness, but strong enough to make me pause. “How many other minds have you accidentally slipped into?”


Lucien?” A short laugh. “What a miserable place to be.” A low snarl rippled from me. “Do not go into my head.”

“Your shield is down.” I hauled it back up. “You might as well have been shouting his name at me.” Again, that contemplative angling of his head. “Perhaps you having my power … ” He chewed on his bottom lip, then snorted. “It’d make sense, of course, if the power came from me—if my own shield sometimes mistook you for me and let you slip past. Fascinating.”

I debated spitting on his boots. “Take your power back. I don’t want it.”

A sly smile. “It doesn’t work that way. The power is bound to your life. The only way to get it back would be to kill you. And since I like your company, I’ll pass on the offer.” We walked a few steps before he said, “You need to be vigilant about keeping your mental wards up. Especially now that you’ve seen Velaris. If you ever go somewhere else,

beyond these lands, and someone slipped into your mind and saw this place …” A muscle quivered in his jaw. “We’re called daemati—those of us who can walk into another person’s mind as if we were going from one room to another. We’re rare, and the trait appears as the Mother wills it, but there are enough of us scattered throughout the world that many— mostly those in positions of influence—extensively train against our skill set. If you were to ever encounter a daemati without those shields up, Feyre, they’d take whatever they wanted. A more powerful one could make you their unwitting slave, make you do whatever they wanted and you’d never know it. My lands remain mystery enough to outsiders that some would find you, among other things, a highly valuable source of information.”

Daemati—was I now one if I, too, could do such things? Yet another damned title for people to whisper as I passed. “I take it that in a potential war with Hybern, the king’s armies wouldn’t even know to strike here?” I waved a hand to the city around us. “So, what—your pampered people … those who can’t shield their minds—they get your protection and don’t have to fight while the rest of us will bleed?”

I didn’t let him answer, and just increased my pace. A cheap shot, and childish, but … Inside, inside I had become like that distant sea, relentlessly churning, tossed about by squalls that tore away any sense of where the surface might be.

Rhys kept a step behind for the rest of the walk to the town house.

Some small part of me whispered that I could survive Amarantha; I could survive leaving Tamlin; I could survive transitioning into this new, strange body … But that empty, cold hole in my chest … I wasn’t sure I could survive that.

Even in the years I’d been one bad week away from starvation, that part of me had been full of color, of light. Maybe becoming a faerie had broken it. Maybe Amarantha had broken it.

Or maybe I had broken it, when I shoved that dagger into the hearts of two innocent faeries and their blood had warmed my hands.



“Absolutely not,” I said atop the town house’s small rooftop garden, my hands shoved deep into the pockets of my overcoat to warm them against the bite in the night air. There was room enough for a few boxed shrubs and a round iron table with two chairs—and me and Rhysand.

Around us, the city twinkled, the stars themselves seeming to hang lower, pulsing with ruby and amethyst and pearl. Above, the full moon set the marble of the buildings and bridges glowing as if they were all lit from within. Music played, strings and gentle drums, and on either side of the Sidra, golden lights bobbed over riverside walkways dotted with cafés and shops, all open for the night, already packed.

Life—so full of life. I could nearly taste it crackling on my tongue.

Clothed in black accented with silver thread, Rhysand crossed his arms. And rustled his massive wings as I said, “No.”

“The House of Wind is warded against people winnowing inside— exactly like this house. Even against High Lords. Don’t ask me why, or who did it. But the option is either walk up the ten thousand steps, which I really do not feel like doing, Feyre, or fly in.” Moonlight glazed the talon at the apex of each wing. He gave me a slow grin that I hadn’t seen all afternoon. “I promise I won’t drop you.”

I frowned at the midnight-blue dress I’d selected—even with the long sleeves and heavy, luxurious fabric, the plunging vee of the neckline did nothing against the cold. I’d debated wearing the sweater and thicker pants, but had opted for finery over comfort. I already regretted it, even with the coat. But if his Inner Circle was anything like Tamlin’s court … better to wear the more formal attire. I winced at the swath of night between the roof and the mountain-residence. “The wind will rip the gown right off.”

His grin became feline.

“I’ll take the stairs,” I seethed, the anger welcome from the past few hours of numbness as I headed for the door at the end of the roof.

Rhys snapped out a wing, blocking my path.

Smooth membrane—flecked with a hint of iridescence. I peeled back. “Nuala spent an hour on my hair.”

An exaggeration, but she had fussed while I’d sat there in hollow silence, letting her tease the ends into soft curls and pin a section along the top of my head with pretty gold barrettes. But maybe staying inside tonight, alone and quiet … maybe it’d be better than facing these people. Than interacting.

Rhys’s wing curved around me, herding me closer to where I could nearly feel the heat of his powerful body. “I promise I won’t let the wind destroy your hair.” He lifted a hand as if he might tug on one of those loose curls, then lowered it.

“If I’m to decide whether I want to work against Hybern with you— with your Inner Circle, can’t we just … meet here?”

“They’re all up there already. And besides, the House of Wind has enough space that I won’t feel like chucking them all off the mountain.”

I swallowed. Sure enough, curving along the top of the center mountain behind us, floors of lights glinted, as if the mountain had been crowned in gold. And between me and that crown of light was a long, long stretch of open air. “You mean,” I said, because it might have been the only weapon in my arsenal, “that this town house is too small, and their personalities are too big, and you’re worried I might lose it again.”

His wing pushed me closer, a whisper of warmth on my shoulder. “So what if I am?”

“I’m not some broken doll.” Even if this afternoon, that conversation we’d had, what I’d glimpsed through his eyes, said otherwise. But I yielded another step.

“I know you’re not. But that doesn’t mean I’ll throw you to the wolves. If you meant what you said about wanting to work with me to keep Hybern from these lands, keep the wall intact, I want you to meet my friends first. Decide on your own if it’s something you can handle. And I want this meeting to be on my terms, not whenever they decide to ambush this house again.”

“I didn’t know you even had friends.” Yes—anger, sharpness … It felt good. Better than feeling nothing.

A cold smile. “You didn’t ask.”

Rhysand was close enough now that he slid a hand around my waist, both of his wings encircling me. My spine locked up. A cage—

The wings swept back.

But he tightened his arm. Bracing me for takeoff. Mother save me. “You say the word tonight, and we come back here, no questions asked. And if you can’t stomach working with me, with them, then no questions asked on that, either. We can find some other way for you to live here, be fulfilled, regardless of what I need. It’s your choice, Feyre.”

I debated pushing him on it—on insisting I stay. But stay for what? To sleep? To avoid a meeting I should most certainly have before deciding what I wanted to do with myself? And to fly …

I studied the wings, the arm around my waist. “Please don’t drop me.

And please don’t—”

We shot into the sky, fast as a shooting star.

Before my yelp finished echoing, the city had yawned wide beneath us. Rhys’s hand slid under my knees while the other wrapped around my back and ribs, and we flapped up, up, up into the star-freckled night, into the liquid dark and singing wind.

The city lights dropped away until Velaris was a rippling velvet blanket littered with jewels, until the music no longer reached even our pointed ears. The air was chill, but no wind other than a gentle breeze brushed my face—even as we soared with magnificent precision for the House of Wind.

Rhys’s body was hard and warm against mine, a solid force of nature crafted and honed for this. Even the smell of him reminded me of the wind—rain and salt and something citrus-y I couldn’t name.

We swerved into an updraft, rising so fast it was instinct to clutch his black tunic as my stomach clenched. I scowled at the soft laugh that tickled my ear. “I expected more screaming from you. I must not be trying hard enough.”

Do not,” I hissed, focusing on the approaching tiara of lights in the eternal wall of the mountain.

With the sky wheeling overhead and the lights shooting past below, up and down became mirrors—until we were sailing through a sea of stars. Something tight in my chest eased a fraction of its grip.

“When I was a boy,” Rhys said in my ear, “I’d sneak out of the House of Wind by leaping out my window—and I’d fly and fly all night, just making loops around the city, the river, the sea. Sometimes I still do.”

“Your parents must have been thrilled.”

“My father never knew—and my mother …” A pause. “She was Illyrian. Some nights, when she caught me right as I leaped out the window, she’d scold me … and then jump out herself to fly with me until dawn.”

“She sounds lovely,” I admitted.

“She was,” he said. And those two words told me enough about his past that I didn’t pry.

A maneuver had us rising higher, until we were in direct line with a broad balcony, gilded by the light of golden lanterns. At the far end, built into the red mountain itself, two glass doors were already open, revealing a large, but surprisingly casual dining room carved from the stone, and accented with rich wood. Each chair fashioned, I noted, to accomodate wings.

Rhys’s landing was as smooth as his takeoff, though he kept an arm beneath my shoulders as my knees buckled at the adjustment. I shook off his touch, and faced the city behind us.

I’d spent so much time squatting in trees that heights had lost their primal terror long ago. But the sprawl of the city … worse, the vast expanse of dark beyond—the sea … Maybe I remained a human fool to feel that way, but I had not realized the size of the world. The size of Prythian, if a city this large could remain hidden from Amarantha, from the other courts.

Rhysand was silent beside me. Yet after a moment, he said, “Out with it.”

I lifted a brow.

“You say what’s on your mind—one thing. And I’ll say one, too.” I shook my head and turned back to the city.

But Rhys said, “I’m thinking that I spent fifty years locked Under the Mountain, and I’d sometimes let myself dream of this place, but I never expected to see it again. I’m thinking that I wish I had been the one who slaughtered her. I’m thinking that if war comes, it might be a long while yet before I get to have a night like this.”

He slid his eyes to me, expectant.

I didn’t bother asking again how he’d kept this place from her, not when he was likely to refuse to answer. So I said, “Do you think war will be here that soon?”

“This was a no-questions-asked invitation. I told you … three things.

Tell me one.”

I stared toward the open world, the city and the restless sea and the dry winter night.

Maybe it was some shred of courage, or recklessness, or I was so high above everything that no one save Rhys and the wind could hear, but I said, “I’m thinking that I must have been a fool in love to allow myself to be shown so little of the Spring Court. I’m thinking there’s a great deal of that territory I was never allowed to see or hear about and maybe I would have lived in ignorance forever like some pet. I’m thinking … ” The words became choked. I shook my head as if I could clear the remaining ones away. But I still spoke them. “I’m thinking that I was a lonely, hopeless person, and I might have fallen in love with the first thing that showed me a hint of kindness and safety. And I’m thinking maybe he knew that—maybe not actively, but maybe he wanted to be

that person for someone. And maybe that worked for who I was before. Maybe it doesn’t work for who—what I am now.”


The words, hateful and selfish and ungrateful. For all Tamlin had done

The thought of his name clanged through me. Only yesterday afternoon, I had been there. No—no, I wouldn’t think about it. Not yet.

Rhysand said, “That was five. Looks like I owe you two thoughts.” He glanced behind us. “Later.”

Because the two winged males from earlier were standing in the doorway.


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