Chapter no 30

Crown of Midnight

Celaena stared at the body.

An empty body, artfully mutilated, so cut up that the bed was almost black with blood.

People had rushed into the room behind her, and she smelled the faint tang as someone was sick nearby.

But she just stayed there, letting the others fan out around her as they rushed to assess the three cooling bodies in the room. That ancient, ageless drum—her heartbeat—pulsed through her ears, drowning out any sound.

Nehemia was gone. That vibrant, fierce, loving soul; the princess who had been called the Light of Eyllwe; the woman who had been a beacon of hope—just like that, as if she were no more than a wisp of candlelight, she was gone.

When it had mattered most, Celaena hadn’t been there. Nehemia was gone.



Someone murmured her name, but didn’t touch her.

There was a gleam of sapphire eyes in front of her, blocking out her vision of the bed and the dismembered body atop it. Dorian. Prince Dorian. There were tears running down his face. She reached out a hand to touch them. They were oddly warm against her freezing, distant fingers. Her nails were dirty, bloody, cracked—so gruesome against the smooth white cheek of the prince.

And then that voice from behind her said her name again. “Celaena.”

They had done this.

Her bloody fingers slid down Dorian’s face, to his neck. He just stared at her, suddenly still.

“Celaena,” that familiar voice said. A warning.

They had done this. They had betrayed her. Betrayed Nehemia.

They had taken her away. Her nails brushed Dorian’s exposed throat. “Celaena,” the voice said.

Celaena slowly turned.

Chaol stared at her, a hand on his sword. The sword she’d brought to the warehouse—the sword she’d left there. Archer had told her that Chaol had known they were going to do this.

He had known.

She shattered completely, and launched herself at him.



Chaol had only enough time to release his sword as she lunged, swiping for his face with a hand.

She slammed him into the wall, and stinging pain burst from the four lines she gouged across his cheek with her nails.

She reached for the dagger at her waist, but he grasped her wrist.

Blood slid down his check, down his neck.

His guards shouted, rushing closer, but he hooked a foot behind hers, twisting as he shoved, and threw her to the ground.

“Stay back,” he ordered them, but it cost him. Pinned beneath him, she slammed a fist up beneath his jaw, so hard his teeth sang.

And then she was snarling, snarling like some kind of wild animal as she snapped for his neck. He reared back, throwing her against the marble floor again. “Stop.”

But the Celaena he knew was gone. The girl he’d imagined as his wife, the girl he’d shared a bed with for the past week, was utterly gone. Her clothes and hands were caked with the blood of the men in the warehouse. She wedged a knee up, pounding it between his legs so hard he lost his grip on her, and then she was on top of him, dagger drawn, plunging down toward his chest—

He grabbed her wrist again, crushing it in his hand as the blade hovered over his heart. Her whole body trembled with effort, trying to shove it the remaining few inches. She reached for her other dagger, but he caught that wrist, too.

“Stop.” He gasped, winded from the blow she’d landed with her knee, trying to think past that blinding pain. “Celaena, stop.

“Captain,” one of his men ventured.

“Stay back,” he snarled again.

Celaena threw her weight into the dagger she held aloft, and gained an inch. His arms strained. She was going to kill him. She was truly going to kill him.

He made himself look into her eyes, look at the face so twisted with rage that he couldn’t find her.

“Celaena,” he said, squeezing her wrists so hard that he hoped the pain registered somewhere—wherever she had gone. But she still wouldn’t loosen her grip on the blade. “Celaena, I’m your friend.”

She stared at him, panting through gritted teeth, her breath coming quicker and quicker before she roared, the sound filling the room, his blood, his world: “You will never be my friend. You will always be my enemy.”

She bellowed the last word with such soul-deep hatred that he felt it like a punch to the gut. She surged again, and he lost his grip on the wrist that held the dagger. The blade plunged down.

And stopped. There was a sudden chill in the room, and Celaena’s hand just stopped, as though it had been frozen in midair. Her eyes left his face, but Chaol couldn’t see who it was she hissed at. For a heartbeat, it seemed as if she was thrashing against some invisible force, but then Ress was behind her, and she was too busy struggling to notice as the guard slammed the pommel of his sword into her head.

As Celaena fell atop him, a part of Chaol fell along with her.

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