Chapter no 49

Crown of Midnight

She didn’t remember anything after the first two swings of her sword, only that she’d suddenly seen Fleetfoot come flying at the creature. The sight had distracted her enough for the demon to get past her guard, its long, white fingers grabbing her by the hair and slamming her head into the wall.

Then darkness.

She wondered whether she’d died and awoken in hell as she opened her eyes to a pulsing headache—and the sight of Chaol, circling the pale demon, blood dripping from both of them. And then there were cool hands on her head, on her neck, and Dorian crouching in front of her as he said, “Celaena.”

She struggled to her feet, her head aching even more. She had to help Chaol. Had to—

She heard a rip of clothing and a yelp of pain, and she looked at Chaol in time to see him grasp the cut on his shoulder, inflicted by those filthy, jagged nails. The creature roared, its overlong jaw gleaming with saliva, and it lunged again for the captain.

Celaena tried to move, but she wasn’t fast enough. But Dorian was.

Something invisible slammed into the creature, sending it flying into the wall with a crunch. Gods. Dorian didn’t just have magic—he had raw magic. The rarest, and deadliest, kind. Sheer undiluted power, capable of being shaped into whatever form the wielder desired.

The creature crumpled but instantly got up, whirling toward her and Dorian. The prince just stood there, hand outstretched.

The milky-blue eyes were ravenous now.

Through the portal Celaena heard the rocky earth crunching beneath more pairs of bare, pale feet. Archer’s chanting grew louder.

Chaol attacked the thing again. It surged toward him just before his sword struck, swiping with those long fingers, forcing the captain to dart back.

She grabbed Dorian. “We have to close it. The portal should close on its own eventually, but—but the longer it’s open, the greater the threat of more coming through before it does.”


“I—I don’t know, I …” Her head spun so badly her knees wobbled. But she turned to Archer, who stood across the hall, separated from them by the pacing creature. “Give me the book.”

Chaol wounded the demon across its abdomen with a sure, deft stroke, but it didn’t slow down. Even from a few feet away, the tang of the dark blood reached her nose.

Celaena watched Archer take it all in, his eyes wide, panicked beyond reason. And then he sprinted down the hall, taking with him the book— and any hope of shutting the portal.



Dorian couldn’t move fast enough to stop the handsome man from fleeing with the book in his hands, and didn’t dare, with that demon between them. Celaena, her forehead bleeding, made a lunge for him, but the man was too fast. Her eyes kept darting to Chaol, who was keeping the thing distracted. Dorian knew without being told that she didn’t want to leave the captain.

“I’ll go—” Dorian began.

“No. He’s dangerous, and these tunnels are a labyrinth,” she panted. Chaol and the creature circled each other, the thing slowly backing toward the portal entrance. “I can’t close it without that book,” she moaned. “There are more books upstairs, but I—”

“Then we flee,” Dorian breathed, grabbing her by the elbow. “We flee and try to get to those books.”

He dragged her with him, not daring to take his eyes off Chaol or the creature. She swayed in his grasp. The wound to her head must be as bad as it looked. Something was glowing at her throat: the amulet she’d told him was just a “cheap replica,” shining like a tiny blue star.

“Go,” Chaol told them, staring down the thing in front of him.


She stumbled, tugging toward Chaol, but Dorian pulled her back.

“No,” she got out, but the wound to her head made her sag in Dorian’s grip. As if realizing that she’d be a hindrance to Chaol, she stopped fighting Dorian as he hauled her toward the stairs.



Chaol knew he couldn’t win this fight. His best option was to flee with them, to guard the way until they could get to that stone door far, far above and lock the creature down here. But he wasn’t sure he’d even make it to the stairs. The creature thwarted his attacks so easily it seemed to have an uncanny intelligence.

At least Celaena and Dorian had reached the stairs. He could accept his end if it meant they could escape. He could embrace the darkness when it came.

The creature paused just long enough for Chaol to gain a few more feet of distance. He backed toward the bottom step.

But then she started shouting—the same word again and again as Dorian tried to keep dragging her up the stairs.


Chaol looked. In a dark shadow by the wall, Fleetfoot had been left behind, her leg too injured to run.

The creature looked, too.

And there was nothing he could do, absolutely nothing, as the creature whirled, grabbed Fleetfoot by her injured hind leg, and dragged her through the portal with it.

There was nothing he could do, he realized, except run.

Celaena’s scream was still echoing through the passageway as Chaol leapt off the stairs and hurtled through the misty portal after Fleetfoot.



If she had thought she’d known fear and pain before, it was nothing compared to what went through her when Chaol ran through the portal after Fleetfoot.

Dorian didn’t see her coming as she whirled, slamming his head into the stone wall hard enough that he crumpled to the steps, freeing her from his grip.

But she didn’t care about Dorian, didn’t care about anything except Fleetfoot and Chaol as she sprinted down those few stairs and across the hall. She had to get them out, get them back before the portal shut forever.

She was through in a heartbeat.

And when she saw Chaol shielding Fleetfoot with nothing but his bare hands, his discarded sword snapped in two by the demon who

hovered over them, she didn’t think twice before she unleashed the monster inside herself.



From the corner of his eye, Chaol saw her coming, the ancient sword in her hands and her face set with feral rage.

The moment she burst through the portal, something changed. It was like a fog vanished from her face, her features sharpening, her steps becoming longer and more graceful. And then her ears—her ears shifted into delicate points.

The creature, sensing it was about to lose its prey, made a final lunge for Chaol.

It was blasted away by a wall of blue flame.

The fire vanished to reveal the creature slamming into the ground, flipping again and again. It was on its feet before it finished rolling, whirling toward Celaena in the same move.

She was between them now, sword raised. She roared, revealing elongated canines, and the sound was unlike anything he’d ever heard. There was nothing human in it.

Because she wasn’t human, Chaol realized, gaping up at her from where he still crouched over Fleetfoot.

No—she wasn’t human at all. Celaena was Fae.

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