Chapter no 34

Crown of Midnight

“Any changes in her behavior?” “She got out of bed.” “And?”

Standing in the sunlit hall of the upper levels of the glass castle, Ress’s usually jovial face was grim. “And now she’s sitting in a chair in front of the fire. It’s the same as yesterday: she got out of bed, sat in the chair all day, then got back into bed at sundown.”

“Is she still not speaking?”

Ress shook his head, keeping his voice low as a courtier passed by. “Philippa says she just sits there and stares at the fire. Won’t speak. Still barely touches her food.” Ress’s eyes grew warier as they took in the healing cuts that ran down Chaol’s cheek. Two had already scabbed and would fade, but there was a long, surprisingly deep one that was still tender. Chaol wondered whether it would scar. He’d deserve it if it did.

“I’m probably overstepping my bounds—”

“Then don’t say it,” Chaol growled. He knew exactly what Ress would say: the same thing Philippa said, and anyone who saw him and gave him that pitying glance. You should try talking to her.

He didn’t know how word had gotten out so quickly that she’d tried to kill him, but it seemed they all knew how deep the break between him and Celaena went. He’d thought the two of them had been discreet, and he knew Philippa wasn’t a gossip. But perhaps what he felt for her had been written all over him. And what she now felt for him … He resisted the urge to touch the cuts on his face.

“I still want the watch posted outside her door and windows,” he ordered Ress. He was on his way to another meeting; another shouting match about how they should deal with the fallout in Eyllwe over the princess’s death. “Don’t stop her if she leaves, but try to slow her down a bit.”

Long enough for word to get to him that she’d finally left her rooms. If anyone was going to intercept Celaena, if anyone would confront her about what happened to Nehemia, it would be him. Until then, he’d give

her the space she needed, even if it killed him not to speak to her. She’d become entwined in his life—from the morning runs to the lunches to the kisses she stole from him when no one was looking—and now, without her, he felt hollow. But he still didn’t know how he’d ever look her in the eye.

You will always be my enemy. She’d meant it.

Ress nodded. “Consider it done.”

The young guard saluted as Chaol headed for the meeting room. There would be other meetings today—lots of meetings, since the debate was still raging over how Adarlan should react to Nehemia’s death. And though he hated to admit it, he had other things to worry about than Celaena’s unending grief.

The king had summoned his southern lords and retainers to Rifthold. Including Chaol’s father.



Dorian usually didn’t mind Chaol’s men. But he did mind being followed around, day and night, by guards who were on the lookout for any threat. Nehemia’s death had proved that the castle was not impregnable. His mother and Hollin were sequestered in her chambers, and many of the nobility had either left the city or were lying low, too.

Except Roland. Though Roland’s mother had fled back to Meah the morning after the princess was assassinated, Roland stayed, insisting that Dorian would need his support now more than ever. And he was right. At the council meetings, which grew more and more crowded as the southern lords arrived, Roland backed every point and objection that Dorian made. Together they argued against sending more troops into Eyllwe in case of revolt, and Roland seconded Dorian’s proposal that they should publicly apologize to Nehemia’s parents for her death.

His father had exploded when Dorian suggested that, but Dorian had still written her parents a message, expressing his deepest condolences. His father could go to hell for all he cared.

And that was starting to be a problem, he realized as he sat in his tower room and flipped through all the documents he had to read before tomorrow’s meeting with the southern lords. He had spent so long being careful to avoid defying his father, but what sort of man could he call himself if he blindly obeyed?

A smart man, a part of him whispered, flickering with that cold, ancient power.

At least his four guards stayed outside his rooms. His private tower was high enough that no one could reach the balcony, and only one stair led up and down. Easily defensible. But it also made for an easy cage.

Dorian stared at the glass pen on his desk. The night Nehemia had died, he hadn’t intended to stop Celaena’s wrist in midair. He’d just known that the woman he’d loved was about to kill his oldest friend over a misunderstanding. He’d been too far away to grab her as she plunged the blade down, but then … it was like a phantom arm reached out from within him and wrapped around her wrist. He could feel her blood-crusted skin, as if he himself were touching her.

But he hadn’t known what he was doing. He’d just acted on gut feeling and desperation and need.

He had to learn to control this power, whatever it was. If he could control it, then he could keep it from appearing at inopportune times. Like when he was in those damned council meetings and his temper rose, and he felt the magic stirring in response.

Dorian took a deep breath, focusing on the pen, willing it to move. He’d stopped Celaena midstrike, he’d thrown a wall of books into the air

—he could move a pen.

It didn’t move.

After staring at it until his eyes nearly crossed, Dorian groaned and leaned back in his chair, covering his eyes with his hands.

Maybe he’d gone insane. Maybe he’d just imagined the whole thing.

Nehemia had once promised to be there when he needed help—when some power in him awoke. She had known.

Had her assassin, in killing Nehemia, also killed any hope he had of finding answers?



Celaena had only started sitting in the chair because Philippa had come in yesterday and complained about the dirty sheets. She might have told Philippa to go to hell, but then she considered who had last shared this bed with her, and was suddenly glad to have them replaced. Any trace of him, she wanted gone.

As the sun finished setting, she sat before the fire, staring into the glowing embers that grew brighter as the world darkened.

Time was shifting and ebbing around her. Some days had passed in an hour, others a lifetime. She had bathed once, long enough to wash her hair, and Philippa had watched the whole time to make sure she didn’t drown herself instead.

Celaena ran a thumb over the armrest of the chair. She had no intention of ending her life. Not before she did what needed to be done.

The shadows in the room grew, and the embers seemed to breathe as she watched them. Breathing with her, pulsing with each heartbeat.

In these days of silence and sleep, she’d realized one thing: the assassin had come from outside the palace.

Perhaps they had been hired by whoever had initially threatened Nehemia’s life—perhaps not. But they weren’t associated with the king.

Celaena gripped the arms of the chair, her nails digging into the polished wood. It hadn’t been one of Arobynn’s assassins, either. She knew his style, and it wasn’t this monstrous. She again went over the details of the bedroom, now branded into her mind.

She did know one killer this monstrous. Grave.

She’d learned as much about him as she could when she’d faced him in the competition to become King’s Champion. She’d heard what he did to the bodies of his victims.

Her lips pulled back from her teeth.

Grave knew the palace; he’d trained here just as she had. And he’d known, too, just whom he was murdering and dismembering—and what it would mean to her.

A familiar, dark fire rippled in her gut, spreading through her, dragging her down into an abyss without end.

Celaena Sardothien stood from her chair.

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