Chapter no 7

A Court of Silver Flames

Each series of steps and movements Cassian went through was beautiful and lethal and precise, and it was all Nesta could do to not gawk.

She’d never been able to look away from him. From the moment they’d met, she’d developed a keen awareness of his presence in any space, any room. She hadn’t been able to stop it, to block it out, no matter how much she suggested otherwise.

Go! he had begged her as he lay dying.

I can’t, she’d wept. can’t.

She didn’t know where the person she’d been in that moment had gone.

Couldn’t find her way back to her.

But even as she sat on that rock and stared at the swaying pines covering the mountains, she watched Cassian from the corner of her eye, aware of every graceful movement, the rasp of his steady breathing, the flow of his dark hair in the wind.

“Hard at work, I see.”

Morrigan’s voice drew Nesta’s gaze from the mountains and the warrior who seemed so much a part of them. The stunning female stood beside her, brown eyes fixed on Cassian, admiration shining in them. There was no sign of Devlon or his followers, as if they’d drifted away long ago. Had it been two hours already? Mor said mildly, “He is pretty, isn’t he?”

Nesta’s spine stiffened at the warmth in her tone. “Just ask him.”

No amusement lit Morrigan’s face as she shifted her attention down to Nesta. “Why aren’t you out there?”

“I’m taking a break.”

Morrigan’s gaze swept over Nesta’s face, noting the lack of sweat or flushed skin, the hair barely out of place. The female said quietly, “My vote would have been to dump you right back in the human lands, you know.”

“Oh, I know.” Nesta refused to stand, to meet the challenge. “Good thing being Feyre’s sister has its advantages.”

Morrigan’s lip curled. Beyond her, Cassian had halted his smooth movements.

Dark fire simmered in Morrigan’s eyes. “I knew plenty of people like you once.” Her hand drifted to her abdomen. “You never deserve the benefit of the doubt that good people like him give you.”

Nesta was well aware of that. And knew what manner of people Morrigan referred to—those who dwelled in the Court of Nightmares in the Hewn City. Feyre had never told her the full story, but Nesta knew the bare details: the monsters who had tormented and brutalized Morrigan until she was thrown to the wolves.

Nesta leaned back on her hands, the cold rock biting through her gloves. She opened her mouth, but Cassian had reached them, breathless and gleaming with sweat. “You’re early.”

“I wanted to see how things were coming along.” Morrigan pulled her burning gaze from Nesta. “Seems like today was a slow start.”

Cassian raked his fingers through his hair. “You could say that.” Nesta clenched her jaw hard enough to hurt.

Morrigan extended a hand to him, and then threw one toward Nesta without so much as a glance. “Shall we?”



Morrigan was a self-righteous busybody.

The thought raged through Nesta as she stood in the subterranean library beneath the House of Wind. A vain, self-righteous busybody.

Cassian hadn’t spoken to her upon their return. She hadn’t waited to see if he’d offer lunch, either, before going to her room and taking a bath to

warm her bones.

When she’d emerged, she found that a note had been slipped beneath her door. In tight, bold lettering, it told her to be in the library at one. No threats, no promises to ship her off to the human lands. As if he didn’t care whether she obeyed.

Well, at least breaking him had been accomplished faster than she’d anticipated.

She’d ventured to the library not because of any desire to obey his or Rhysand’s commands, but because the alternative was equally unbearable: sitting in her silent bedroom, nothing but the roaring in her head to fill the quiet.

It had been more than a year since she’d last been down here. Since those terrifying moments when Hybern’s assassins had snuck in, chasing her and Feyre into the dark heart of the library. She peered over the edge of the landing’s stone railing, straight into the black pit far below. No ancient creature slumbered in that darkness anymore, but the dimness remained. And at its bottom lay the ground where Cassian had landed, reaching for her. There had been such rage on his face at the sight of her terror—

She sliced off the thought. Pushed back the tremor that went through her, and focused on the female sitting at the desk, nearly hidden by columns of books stacked there.

The female’s hands were wrecked. There was no polite way of describing them beyond that. Bones bent and knobbed, fingers at the wrong angles … Feyre had once mentioned that the priestesses in this library had difficult pasts. To say the least.

Nesta didn’t want to know what had been done to Clotho, the library’s high priestess, to render her thus. To have her tongue cut out and then deliberately healed that way so the damage might never be undone. Males had hurt her, and—

Hands shoving her down, down, down into freezing water, voices laughing and sneering.

A brutish male face grinning as he anticipated the trophy that would be pulled forth—

She couldn’t stop it. Couldn’t save Elain, sobbing on the floor. Couldn’t save herself. No one was coming to rescue her, and these males would do what they wanted, and her body was not her own, not human—not for much longer—

Nesta wrenched her thoughts back to the present, blasting back the memory.

Her face veiled in the shadows beneath her pale hood, Clotho sat in silence, as if she’d seen the thoughts blare through Nesta, as if she knew how often the memory of that day in Hybern woke her. The limpid blue stone crowning the hood of Clotho’s robe flickered like a Siphon in the dim light as she slid a piece of parchment across the desk.

You can begin today by shelving books on Level Three. Take the ramp behind me to reach it. There will be a cart with the books, which are organized alphabetically by author. If there is no author, set them aside and ask for help at the end of your shift.

Nesta nodded. “When is the end of my shift?”

Using her wrists and the backs of her hands, Clotho pulled a small clock to herself. Pointed with a bulging knuckle to the six o’clock marker.

Five hours of work. Nesta could do that. “Fine.”

Clotho considered her again. Like she could see the churning, roaring sea inside her, that refused to leave her alone for so much as a moment, that refused to grant her a second of peace.

Nesta lowered her eyes to the desk. Forced herself to release a breath.

But with its escape past her lips, that familiar weight swept in.

I am worthless and I am nothing, Nesta nearly said. She wasn’t sure why the words bubbled up, pressing on her lips to voice them. I hate everything that I am. And I am so, so tired. I am tired of wanting to be anywhere but in my own head.

She waited for Clotho to gesture, to do anything to say she’d heard the thoughts.

The priestess motioned to the library above and below. A silent dismissal.

Feet heavy, Nesta made her way to the sloping ramp.



The task was menial, but required enough concentration that time slipped away, her mind quieting to a blissful nothing.

No one approached Nesta as she hunted down sections and shelves, fingers skimming over the spines of books as she searched for the right place. There were at least three dozen priestesses who worked and researched and healed here, though it was nearly impossible to count them when they all wore the same pale robes and so many kept the hoods over their faces. The ones who’d left their hoods down had offered her tentative smiles.

This was their sanctuary, gifted to them by Rhysand. No one could enter without their permission.

Which meant they’d approved her presence, for whatever reason.

Nesta’s hands were near-withered with dust by the time a bell chimed six silvery peals throughout the cavernous library, ringing from its top levels down to the black pit. Some priestesses rose from where they worked at the desks and chairs on each level; some remained.

She found Clotho at the same desk. Did she ever lift her hood? She must, in order to bathe, but did she ever show anyone her face?

“I’m done for the day,” Nesta announced. Clotho slid another note across the desk.

Thank you for your assistance. We will see you tomorrow.

“All right.” Nesta pocketed the note.

But Clotho held up a broken hand. Nesta watched with no shortage of awe as a fountain pen lifted above a piece of paper and began to write.

Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dusty. You’ll wreck that beautiful dress down here.

Nesta glanced to the gray gown she’d thrown on. “All right,” she repeated.

The pen began moving again, somehow spelled to connect with Clotho’s thoughts. It was nice to meet you, Nesta. Feyre speaks highly of you.

Nesta turned away. “No one likes a liar, Priestess.”

She could have sworn a breath of amusement fluttered from beneath the female’s hood.



Cassian didn’t come to dinner.

Nesta had stopped in her room only long enough to wash the dust from her hands and face, and then nearly sprinted upstairs, stomach growling.

The dining room had been empty. The place setting for one confirmed that she was in for a solitary meal.

She’d stared at the sunset-bathed city far below, the sole sounds her rustling dress and creaking chair.

Why was she surprised? She’d humiliated him at Windhaven. He was probably with his friends at the river house, ranting at them to find some other way to deal with her.

A plate of food appeared, dumped unceremoniously onto the place mat.

Even the House hated her.

Nesta scowled at the red-stoned room. “Wine.”

None appeared. She lifted the glass before her. “Wine.

Nothing. She tapped her nails on the table’s smooth surface. “Were you told to not give me wine?”

Talking to a house: a new low.

But as if in answer, the glass filled with water.

Nesta snarled toward the open archway at her back. “Funny.”

She surveyed the food: half a roast chicken seasoned with what smelled like rosemary and thyme; mashed potatoes swimming in butter; and green beans sautéed with garlic.

That silence roared in her head, in the room. She drummed her fingers again.

Ridiculous. This whole thing, this high-handed interference was


Nesta stood and aimed for the doorway. “Keep your wine. I’ll get my own.”

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