Chapter no 79

A Court of Silver Flames

Meeting Eris was the last thing Cassian wanted to do, but someone had to check in with the male. Two days after Nyx’s birth, Cassian set off to do just that. Eris had been seen to a suite in the Hewn City, and from Keir’s stormy expression upon Cassian’s arrival, he had a feeling that Eris had told the steward very little.

Eris was reading a book by the roaring fire, an ankle crossed over a knee, as if his presence here were nothing unusual. As if he hadn’t been kidnapped, enchanted, and manipulated by a vengeful queen and a death-lord.

Eris lifted his amber eyes as Cassian shut the door. “I can’t stay long.” “Good.”

Eris closed the book, watching Cassian drop into the seat opposite him. “I suppose you want to know what I told Briallyn.”

“Rhys already looked into your mind. Turns out, you didn’t know much.” He gave the male a slashing grin.

Eris rolled his eyes. “So why am I here?”

Cassian surveyed the male. Eris’s clothes remained immaculate, but a muscle ticked on his jaw. “We wanted to know what you told Beron. Since you’re sitting here, in one piece, I’m assuming he doesn’t know about our involvement in your rescue.”

“Oh, he knows that you … assisted me.”

Cassian straightened, wings shifting.

Eris went on, “Always mix truth and lies, General. Didn’t those warrior-brutes teach you about how to withstand an enemy’s torture?”

Cassian knew. He’d been tortured and interrogated and never once broken. “Beron tortured you?”

Eris rose, tucking his book under an arm. “Who cares what my father does to me? He believed my story about the shadowsinger’s spies informing him that a valuable asset had been kidnapped by Briallyn, and that you lot were disgusted to arrive and find it was me, rather than someone from the Summer or Winter Courts or whoever stoops to associate with you.”

Cassian unpacked each word. Beron had tortured his own son for information, rather than thanking the Mother for returning him. But Eris had held out. Fed Beron another lie.

And then there was the way Eris had spoken about the other courts. Something had been off in his words, his tight expression. Was the male jealous?

Cassian opened his mouth, more than ready to launch that question at him and bestow a stinging blow.

Yet he hesitated. Looked into Eris’s eyes.

The male had been raised with every luxury and privilege—on paper. But who knew what terrors Beron had inflicted upon him? Cassian knew Beron had murdered Lucien’s lover. If the High Lord of Autumn had been willing to do that, what wouldn’t he do?

“Get that pitying look off your face,” Eris snarled softly. “I know what sort of creature my father is. I don’t need your sympathy.”

Cassian again studied him. “Why did you leave Mor in the woods that day?” It was the question that would always remain. “Was it just to impress your father?”

Eris barked a laugh, harsh and empty. “Why does it still matter to all of you so much?”

“Because she’s my sister, and I love her.”

“I didn’t realize Illyrians were in the habit of fucking their sisters.”

Cassian growled. “It still matters,” he ground out, “because it doesn’t add up. You know what a monster your father is and want to usurp him; you

act against him in the best interests of not only the Autumn Court but also of all of the faerie lands; you risk your life to ally with us … and yet you left her in the woods. Is it guilt that motivates all of this? Because you left her to suffer and die?”

Golden flame simmered in Eris’s gaze. “I didn’t realize I’d be facing another interrogation so soon.”

“Give me a damn answer.”

Eris crossed his arms, then winced. As if whatever injuries lay beneath his immaculate clothes ached. “You’re not the person I want to explain myself to.”

“I doubt Mor will want to listen.”

“Maybe not.” Eris shifted on his feet, and grimaced again. “But you and yours have more important things to think about than ancient history. My father is furious that his ally is dead, but he’s not deterred. Koschei remains in play, and Beron might very well be stupid enough to establish an alliance with him, too. I hope that whatever Morrigan is doing in Vallahan will counteract the damage my father will unleash.”

Cassian had heard enough. He wanted to return home—to the House, to Nesta. His fierce, beautiful mate, who had saved his High Lord and Lady and their son. He’d never stop being in awe of her, and all she had done. How far she’d come.

And one day, when the time was right … They’d take the next steps.

They’d walk down whatever road lay ahead of them together.

So Cassian stalked for the door, for the life awaiting him in Velaris.

Eris was still their ally. Was willing to be tortured to keep their secrets. And Cassian didn’t need to be a courtier to know his next words would slice deep, but it would be a necessary wound. Perhaps it would be enough to push things in the right direction.

“You know, Eris,” he said, a hand wrapping around the doorknob. “I think you might be a decent male, deep down, trapped in a terrible situation.” He looked over his shoulder and found Eris’s gaze blazing again. But only pity stirred in his chest, pity for a male who had been born into riches, but had been destitute in every way that truly mattered. In every way that Cassian had been blessed—blessings that were now overflowing.

So Cassian said, “I grew up surrounded by monsters. I’ve spent my existence fighting them. And I see you, Eris. You’re not one of them. Not even close. I think you might even be a good male.” Cassian opened the door, turning from Eris’s curled lip. “You’re just too much of a coward to act like one.”

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