Chapter no 8 – Corrick

Defy the Night

Six months before our parents were killed, there was an assassination attempt. e fevers had only just begun, but I was hardly aware of a problem. en, my parents were still well loved, and I’d just begun to attend their meetings with the consuls. My brother had been attending for years, and I’d heard stories about them all. Allisander’s father, Nathaniel Sallister, was full of bluff and bluster, and he challenged my father on every issue.

I remember being presented with my own folio, my own fountain pen. At my side, Harristan was doodling horses and dogs in the margins of his own folio—but I could tell he was listening to everything said. I read every word twice, hoping to have an opportunity to share my “worldly” insights on something. Anything.

By the time the meeting pushed past two hours, however, I was bored and looking for any excuse to leave. I’d begun sketching caricatures of the consuls in the margins of my folio, complete with Nathaniel urinating on a pile of papers. Harristan glanced over, choked on a laugh, and drowned the sound in a sip of water.

Stop it, he mouthed at me, and I grinned.

Across the table, my mother gave us both a look, but her eyes were twinkling.

en a crash and a shout echoed from the hallway, and the twinkle disappeared from her eye. Everyone at the table went silent. Another shout, followed by many more. My father was blocking my mother against the wall. Harristan grabbed my arm and shoved me behind him, but I wrestled to get in front of him.

“You’re the heir,” I hissed, like he needed a reminder.

Something hit the door with a loud thunk, and it didn’t matter which of us was in front, because my father gave an order, and two guards blocked us

from view. My heart was in my throat—but what’s worse is that I remember being more worried that Consul Sallister would see my drawing than of anything happening.

Wood cracked and split, and men poured into the room. Crossbows red almost instantly. e men fell—all except one.

Micah Clarke, the King’s Justice before me, caught one by the arm. He twisted it up behind the man, then slammed him facedown on the table, right where I’d been sitting. My eyes were wide, and I could hear Harristan breathing.

My mother peeked out from around my father. “Why?” she whispered. “Why are they here?”

Micah looked at my father. I don’t know if he was waiting for permission, or an order, or something else entirely.

But my father looked away.

e man wrenched his face up from the folio and inhaled. Later, Micah would say he was going to spit at my parents, but to me, it looked like he was going to speak.

He didn’t get the chance to do either. Micah drew a blade and cut his throat. Blood poured all over my drawings.

We never found out who sent them. It’s long been rumored that they were the rst attack sent from Trader’s Landing, but we’ve never been able to prove it.

I think about that day sometimes. e way my mother seemed confused.

e way my father looked away. e way my brother kept trying to drag me behind him.

e way everyone was afraid, except the King’s Justice, who was forced to act.

Today, I expect Harristan to be furious aer the riot outside the gates, but he’s not.

I am.

Listen to the Benefactors.

I don’t know what that means, but I’ve been turning it over in my head since the guards dragged us off the stage.

e consuls requested a meeting the very instant we returned to the palace, but my brother has been making them wait. He’s been quiet for hours. oughtful. Contemplative.

e longer he sits quietly and thinks, the more agitated I become, until I’m the one pacing his chambers.

ree of the prisoners escaped during the melee. Five were killed, but three slipped into the crowd when citizens began swarming the stage and the guards moved to protect Harristan and me. One of them was Lochlan, the man who smashed Allisander’s face against the bars.

e consul is probably boiling with rage. I’m surprised steam isn’t pouring from the other side of the door.

As if on cue, someone raps at the door. “Enter,” calls Harristan.

One of the guards swings the door wide. “Your Majesty, Master Quint would like to remind you that the consuls are gathered—”

ey can wait,” says Harristan.

e guard nods. e door swings closed.

“You can’t hide in here all day,” I say to him. “We need to address this.” “I’m not hiding.” Harristan doesn’t move. “Do you think it was planned?” “Which part?”

He looks at me. “All of it.” He pauses. “ere were cries for revolution in the crowd, Cory.”

You can stop this! Fight them! Fight back!

I run a hand across the back of my neck and sigh. “I heard them.” “Everyone heard them.” He hesitates as if he has more to say, but he falls

silent. He’s so quiet that I can hear the clock ticking on his desk. Aer a moment, he coughs, and my head snaps around.

at makes him glare. “Stop that. I don’t need a nursemaid.”

I study him, looking for telltale signs of the fever. His cheeks aren’t

ushed, and his eyes are clear. I listen to his breathing anyway.

His eyes narrow. “If you want to worry about something, worry about what we’re going to tell the consuls.”

“I thought that’s what you were spending all this time thinking about.” “Allisander will be furious.”

“Undoubtedly.” “Lissa will be as well.”

“I’ve already oered guards for their supply runs.”

ey’re going to want more. More assurance. More promises. More . . . more.”

en I realize what he’s been waiting for. What he’s not saying. He asked for a spectacle this morning—and he got one. Not the one he wanted, surely, but it was a spectacle all the same. Now he wants another one. Something that will appease the consuls and stop the populace from thinking revolution is an easy path.

He’s been waiting on me.

I nally stop pacing and look at him. “en let’s give them more.”



Allisander only has one black eye, but the bruising across his jaw and forehead seem to make up for it. It must have been too painful to shave around that perfect goatee, because it looks like he started before giving it up. Poor baby.

e pain doesn’t stop him from railing at me during the consul meeting. “ey were all to be taken care of,” he snaps. “Now you’ve let three get away.” “I didn’t let anyone get away,” I say evenly. “ey’re not the rst to escape,

and they surely won’t be the last.”

ey can reorganize,” he says. “ey’ll be aer our supply runs. You’ll see.” He slams a st down on the table. “You promised me, Corrick.”

“I’ve oered additional guards.” I glance across the table at Lissa Marpetta, who’s been sitting in silence while Allisander has a tantrum. “For your supply runs as well.”

“Who are these Benefactors?” she says, looking down her nose at me coolly.

“I have no idea.”

No idea,” thunders Allisander. “No idea, yet you felt no need to torture them during questioning—”

“It’s concerning,” Lissa says quietly, her voice at complete odds with Allisander’s, “that your guards were unable to complete their duties in time.”

ose guards should be tried for treason,” Allisander snaps.

ose guards kept your king alive,” says Harristan, and there’s enough of a chill in his voice to remind them who’s in charge here. It draws some of the tension out of the room, though displeasure still hums in the air around us.

At the end of the table, Roydan clears his throat. “Consul Sallister. You wish to punish a dozen guards for failing to stop a thousand people from

rushing the stage?”

Arella Cherry adds, “Should we assume you punish your own guards when your supply runs are attacked?”

Allisander turns his glare on her. “My sector is no business of yours.” He pauses for a rage- lled breath. “I understand that you asked for these smugglers to be pardoned.”

She doesn’t inch, and her eyes are ice-cold as she regards him. “People in these sectors are dying, Consul Sallister. ey’re not criminals. ey’re desperate.”

“We can’t keep them alive if outlaws keep raiding our supplies,” says Jasper Gold, Consul of Mosswell. “I’ve heard reports of missing dosages from within the Royal Sector. Escaped prisoners always embolden others. Especially if they’re being funded by someone with means.”

His words drop like a rock. Most of the people with means in Kandala are sitting at this table—or they’re close to someone who is.

“Are you implying someone here knows about these raids?” says Roydan. He sounds truly concerned, as if insurrection from within our own circle only just occurred to him.

Arella makes an exasperated noise. “You think these rebels are well funded? ey were barely more than children!”

Jonas Beeching clears his throat. “ose children were old enough to commit a crime.” He glances at Allisander. Jonas is still smarting from his bridge proposal being rejected, and he very obviously wants to keep friends at this table. “ey should be stopped at all costs.”

Allisander turns a glare his way. “You were just seeking twice as much silver as you needed, were you not? Perhaps we should investigate your

nances, Consul.”

I want to roll my eyes.

“Enough,” says Harristan. “We’ve doubled the number of patrols in the Wilds. We’ve mandated searches of the forges in Steel City, and we’ve oered a signi cant reward to anyone who can provide the identity of the three smugglers—or anyone else involved in the trade of stealing Moon ower petals.”

Quint’s eyes almost bugged out of his head when he took down the orders. It’s a reward large enough to provide medicine for a family for an entire year.

“Are you still oering them refuge in Sunkeep?” Allisander snaps at Arella. “Maybe we should start there.”

“Go ahead,” she says evenly. “I am not harboring criminals.”

“We need swi action,” says Lissa. “Do you not agree, Your Majesty?” “I agree,” says Harristan. His gaze shis to me.

My thoughts have been spinning with shock and anger since the moment we lost control of the crowd, but now that I realize what is expected of me, a cool certainty takes over my thoughts. “Swi action?” I say. “Or swi justice?”

Allisander looks across the table at me, and I can tell he’s remembering the moment in the Hold, when Lochlan jerked his face into the bars and I broke the man’s wrist with my bare hands.

I wonder how much of Allisander’s fury is rooted in the fact that Lochlan is one of the prisoners who escaped.

“Both,” he says, and his tone is vicious.

I’ve never backed away from brutality, and I don’t now. I hold Allisander’s eyes and nod. “Consider it done.”

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