Chapter no 13

Crown of Midnight

It was one of the longest nights of Chaol’s life.

Every second had passed by with horrific clarity—every agonizing second as Celaena lay there on the floor of his office, her bodice covered in so much blood that he couldn’t tell where she was bleeding. And with all the stupid layers of frills and pleats, he couldn’t see the entry wounds. So he’d lost it. Utterly lost it. There was no thought in his head beyond a roaring panic as he shut the door, took out his hunting knife,

and ripped open her dress right there.

But there were no wounds, only a sheathed stiletto that clattered to the floor and a scratch on her forearm. With the dress ripped away, there was hardly any blood on her. And that’s when the panic cleared enough for him to remember what she’d whispered: gloriella.

A poison used to temporarily paralyze victims.

Everything from then on became a series of steps: quietly summoning Ress; telling the young, talented guard to keep his mouth shut and to find whatever healers were closest; wrapping her in his cloak so no one could see the blood on her skin; scooping her up and carrying her to her rooms; barking orders at the healers; and finally pinning her down on the bed as they forced the antidote down her throat until she choked on it. Then the long, long hours spent holding her as she vomited, twisting her hair back, snarling at anyone who entered the room.

When she was sleeping soundly at last, he sat by her, still watching over her as he sent Ress and his most trustworthy men into the city and warned them not to come back without answers. When they did return and told him about the businessman apparently murdered by his own poisoned dagger, Chaol pieced together enough of what had happened to be sure of one thing:

He was glad Davis was dead. Because if Davis had survived, Chaol would have gone back to finish the job himself.



Celaena awoke.

Her mouth was bone dry and her head pounded, but she could move. She could wiggle her toes and her fingers, and she recognized the smell of the sheets well enough to know that she was in her bed, in her room, and that she was safe.

Her eyelids were heavy as she opened them, blinking away the blurriness that still lingered. Her stomach ached, but the gloriella had worn off. She looked to her left, as if she’d somehow known, even in sleep, where he was.

Chaol dozed in the chair, his arms and legs sprawled out, his head tipped back, exposing the unbuttoned collar of his tunic and the strong column of his throat. From the angle of the sunlight, it was probably around dawn.

“Chaol,” she rasped.

He was instantly awake and alert, leaning toward her as if he, too, always knew where she was. When he saw her, the hand that had lurched toward his sword relaxed. “You’re awake,” he said, his voice a dark rumble, laced with temper. “How are you feeling?”

She looked at herself; someone had washed away the blood and put her in a nightgown. Just moving her head made everything spin. “Horrible,” she admitted.

He put his head in his hands, bracing his elbows on his knees. “Before you say anything else, just tell me this: did you kill Davis because you were snooping in his office, he caught you, and then cut you with a drugged blade?” A flash of teeth, a flicker of rage in those golden-brown eyes.

Her insides twisted up at the memory, but she nodded. “Very well,” he said, standing up.

“Are you going to tell the king?”

He crossed his arms, coming to the edge of the bed and staring down at her. “No.” Again, that volatile temper burned in his eyes. “Because I don’t feel like having to argue that you’re still capable of spying without getting caught. My men will keep their mouths shut, too. But the next time you do anything like this, I am going to throw you in the dungeons.”

“For killing him?”

“For scaring the hell out of me!” He ran his hands through his hair, pacing for a moment, then whirled, pointing at her. “Do you know what you looked like when you showed up?”

“I’ll hazard a guess and say … bad?”

A flat stare. “If I hadn’t burned your dress, I’d make you look at it right now.”

“You burned my dress?”

He splayed his arms. “You want proof of what you did lying around?” “You could get in trouble for covering for me like this.”

“I’ll deal with it if it comes to that.” “Oh? You’ll deal with it?”

He leaned over the bed, bracing his hands on the mattress as he snarled in her face. “Yes. I’ll deal with it.”

She gulped, but her mouth was so dry she had nothing to swallow. Beyond his anger, there was enough lingering fear in his eyes that she winced. “It was that bad?”

He slumped onto the edge of the mattress. “You were sick. Really sick. We didn’t know how much gloriella was in the wound, so the healers erred on the safe side and gave you a strong dose of the antidote

—which caused you to spend a few hours with your head in a bucket.”

“I don’t remember any of that. I barely remember getting back to the castle.”

He shook his head and stared at the wall. Dark smudges lay under his eyes, stubble coated his jaw, and utter exhaustion lined every inch of his body. He probably hadn’t fallen asleep until a little while ago.

She’d hardly known where she was going while the gloriella tore through her; all she’d known was that she had to get someplace safe.

And somehow, she had wound up exactly where she knew she’d be safest.

You'll Also Like