“Absolutely not,” Mor said when I pulled her a few feet away from Nesta, the din of battle and rain drowning out our voices. “Absolutely not.”
I jerked my head toward the valley below. “Go join them. You’re wasted here. They need you.” It was true. “Cassian and Az need you to push back the front lines.” For Cassian’s Siphons were beginning to sputter.
“Rhys will kill me if I leave you here.”
“Rhys will do no such thing, and you know it. He’s got wards around this camp, and I’m not entirely defenseless, you know.”
I wasn’t lying, exactly, but … The Suriel might very well not appear if Mor was there. And if I told her where I was going … I had no doubt she would insist on coming with me.
We didn’t have the luxury of waiting for Jurian to give us information.
About many things. I needed to leave—now.
“Go fight. Make those Hybern pricks scream a bit.”
Nesta drew her attention away from the slaughter enough to add, “Help them.”
For that was Cassian, making another charge toward a Hybern commander.
Hoping to spook the soldiers again.
Mor frowned deeply, bounced once on her toes. “Just—be on your guard.
Both of you.”
I gave her a wry look—right before she rushed for her tent. I waited until she’d emerged again, buckling on weapons, and saluted me before she winnowed away. To the battlefield.
Right to Azriel’s side—just as a soldier nearly landed a blow to his back.
Mor punched her sword through the soldier’s throat before he could land that strike.
And then Mor began cutting a path toward Cassian, toward the broken front line beyond him, her damp golden hair a ray of sunshine amid the mud and dark armor.
Soldiers began screaming. Screamed some more when Azriel, blue Siphons flaring, fell into place beside her. Together, they plowed a path to Cassian—or tried to.
They made it perhaps ten feet before they were swarmed again. Before the press of bodies made even Mor’s hair vanish in mud and rain.
Nesta laid a hand against her bare, rain-slick throat. Cassian began another assault on a Hybern captain—slower this time than he’d been.
Now. I had to go now—quickly. I took a step away from the outlook. My sister narrowed her brows at me. “You’re leaving?”
“I’ll be back soon,” was all I said. I didn’t dare wonder how much of our army would be left when I did.
By the time I strode away, Nesta had already faced the battle once more, rain plastering her hair to her head. Resuming her unending vigil of the general battling on the valley floor below.
I had to track the Suriel.
And even though Elain could not see the Hybern host … It was worth a try. Her tent was dim, and quiet—the sounds of slaughter far away, dreamlike. She was awake, staring blankly at the canvas ceiling.
“I need you to find something for me,” I said, dripping water everywhere as I laid a map across her thighs. Perhaps not as gentle as I should have been, but she at least sat up at my tone. Blinked at the map of Prythian.
“It’s called the Suriel—it’s one of many who bear that name. But … but it looks like this,” I said, and reached for her hand to show her. I hesitated. “May I show it to you?”
My sister’s brown eyes were glazed.
“Plant the image in your mind,” I clarified. “So you know where to look.” “I don’t know how to look,” Elain mumbled.
“You can try.” I should have asked Amren to train her, too. But Elain studied me, the map, then nodded.
She had no mental shields, no barriers. The gates to her mind … Solid iron, covered in vines of flowers—or it would have been. The blossoms were all sealed, sleeping buds tucked into tangles of leaves and thorns.
I took a step beyond them, just into the antechamber of her mind, and planted the image of the Suriel there, trying to infuse it with safety—the truth that it looked terrifying, but had not harmed me.
Still, Elain shuddered when I pulled out. “Why?”
“It has answers I need. Immediately.” Or else we might not have much of an army left to fight that entire Hybern host once I located it.
Elain again glanced at the map. At me. Then closed her eyes.
Her eyes shifted beneath her lids, the skin so delicate and colorless that the blue veins beneath were like small streams. “It moves …,” she whispered. “It moves through the world like … like the breath of the western wind.”
“Where is it headed?”
Her finger lifted, hovering over the map, the courts. Slowly, she set it down.
“There,” she breathed. “It is going there. Now.”
I looked at where she had laid her finger and felt the blood rush from my face.
The Suriel was headed to that ancient forest in the Middle. Just south— miles, perhaps …
From the Weaver of the Wood.
I winnowed in five leaps. I was breathless, my power nearly drained thanks to the glamouring I’d done yesterday, the summoned flame I’d used to dry myself off, and the winnowing that had taken me from the battle and right into the heart of that ancient wood.
The heavy, ripe air was as awful as I remembered, the forest thick with moss that choked the gnarled beeches and the gray stones scattered throughout. Then there was the silence.
I wondered if I should have indeed brought Mor with me as I listened. As I felt with my lingering magic for any sign of it.
The moss cushioned my steps as I eased into a walk. Scanning, listening.
How far away, how small, that battle to the south felt.
My swallow was loud in my ears.
Things other than the Weaver prowled these woods. And the Weaver herself … Stryga, the Bone Carver had called her. His sister. Both siblings to an awful, male creature lurking in another part of the world.
I drew my Illyrian blade, the metal singing in the thick air.
But an ancient, rasping voice asked behind me, “Have you come to kill me, or to beg for my help once again, Feyre Archeron?”