Chapter no 56

Crown of Midnight

Chaol didn’t understand what she’d told him, the words she’d whispered in his ear. It was a date. Not even a year attached to it. A month and a day—a date that had passed weeks and weeks ago. It was the day that Celaena had left the city. The day she had snapped at Endovier a year before. The day her parents had died.

He stayed on the docks long after the ship was out of the harbor, watching its sails become smaller and smaller as he mulled over the date again and again. Why had she told him everything about those—those Wyrdkeys, but made this hint so obscure? What could possibly be more important than the horrible truth about the king he served?

The Wyrdkeys, while they terrified him, made sense. They explained so much. The king’s great power, his journeys that ended with the whole party mysteriously dying, how Cain had become so strong. Even that time Chaol had looked at Perrington and seen his eyes darken so strangely. But when she’d told him, had she known what kind of choice she’d left him? And what could he possibly do about it from Anielle?

Unless he could find a way out of the vow he’d made. He’d never said when he would go to Anielle. He could think about that tomorrow. For now …

When Chaol returned to the castle, he went to her rooms, sorting through the contents of her desk. But there was nothing about that date. He checked the will she’d written, but that had been signed several days after. The silence and emptiness of her chambers threatened to swallow him whole, and he was about to leave when he spotted the stack of books half hidden in the shadows of her desk.

Geneaologies and countless royal chronicles. When had she brought these books here? He hadn’t seen them the other night. Was it somehow another clue? Standing before the desk, he pulled out the royal chronicles

—all from the the past eighteen years—and started back, one by one. Nothing.

Then came the chronicle from ten years ago. It was thicker than all the rest—as it should be, given the events that had happened that year.

But when he saw what was written about the date she had given, everything froze.

This morning, King Orlon Galathynius, his nephew and heir, Rhoe Galathynius, and Rhoe’s wife, Evalin, were found assassinated. Orlon was murdered in his bed at the royal palace in Orynth, and Rhoe and Evalin were found dead in their beds at their country estate along the River Florine. There is no word yet about the fate of Rhoe and Evalin’s daughter, Aelin.

Chaol grabbed for the first geneaology book, the one on the bloodlines of the royal houses of Adarlan and Terrasen. Was Celaena trying to tell him she knew the truth about what had happened that night

—that she might know where the lost princess Aelin was hiding? That she had been there when this all happened?

He flipped through the pages, scanning the genealogies he had already read. But then he remembered something about the name Evalin Ashryver. Ashryver.

Evalin had come from Wendlyn, had been a princess of the king’s court. Hands shaking, he yanked out a book containing Wendlyn’s royal family tree.

On the last page, Aelin Ashryver Galathynius’s name was written at the bottom, and above it, her mother, Evalin’s. But the family tree traced only the female line. The female, not the male, because—

Two spots above Evalin’s name was written Mab. Aelin’s great-grandmother. She was one of the three Fae Sister-Queens: Maeve, Mora, and Mab. Mab, the youngest, the fairest, who, when she died, had been made into a goddess, known to them now as Deanna, Lady of the Hunt.

The memory hit him like a brick to the face. That Yulemas morning, when Celaena had looked so uncomfortable to be receiving the golden arrow of Deanna—the arrow of Mab.

And Chaol counted down the family tree, one after one, until—

My great-grandmother was Fae.

Chaol had to brace a hand against the desk. No, it couldn’t be. He turned back to the chronicle still lying open, and turned to the next day.

Aelin Galathynius, heir to the throne of Terrasen, died today, or sometime in the night. Before help could reach her deceased parents’ estate, the assassin who had missed her the night before returned. Her body has still not been found, though some believe it was thrown into the river behind her parents’ house.

She’d once said that Arobynn had … had found her. Found her half-dead and frozen. On a riverbank.

He was just jumping to conclusions. Maybe she merely wanted him to know that she still cared about Terrasen, or—

There was a poem scribbled at the top of the Ashryver family tree, as though some student had dashed it down it as a reminder while studying.

Ashryver Eyes

The fairest eyes, from legends old Of brightest blue, ringed with gold.

Bright blue eyes, ringed with gold. A strangled cry came out of him. How many times had he looked into those eyes? How many times had he seen her avert her gaze, that one bit of proof she couldn’t hide, from the king?

Celaena Sardothien wasn’t in league with Aelin Ashryver Galathynius.

Celaena Sardothien was Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, heir to the throne and rightful Queen of Terrasen.

Celaena was Aelin Galathynius, the greatest living threat to Adarlan, the one person who could raise an army capable of standing against the king. Now, she was also the one person who knew the secret source of the king’s power—and who sought a way to destroy it.

And he had just sent her into the arms of her strongest potential allies: to the homeland of her mother, the kingdom of her cousin, and the domain of her aunt, Queen Maeve of the Fae.

Celaena was the lost Queen of Terrasen. Chaol sank to his knees.

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