Chapter no 36

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, 4)

It didn’t take long for Aelin to set her trap. She could feel the eyes monitoring her as she found the patrol led by one of the more sadistic Valg commanders.

Thanks to Chaol and Nesryn’s reports, she knew their new hideouts. What Chaol and Nesryn didn’t know—what she had spent these nights sneaking out to track on her own—was which sewer entrances the commanders used when going to speak to one of the Wyrdhounds.

They seemed to prefer the most ancient waterways to swimming through the filth of the more recent main tunnels. She’d been getting as close as she dared, which usually was not near enough to overhear anything.

Tonight, she slipped down into the sewers after the commander, her steps nearly silent on the slick stones, trying to stifle her nausea at the stench. She’d waited until Chaol, Nesryn, and their top lieutenants were out of the city, chasing down those prison wagons, if only so no one would get in her way again. She couldn’t risk it.

As she walked, keeping far enough behind the Valg commander that he wouldn’t hear, she began speaking softly.

“I got the key,” she said, a sigh of relief passing over her lips.

Twisting her voice just as Lysandra had showed her, she replied in a male tenor, “You brought it with you?”

“Of course I did. Now show me where you wanted to hide it.” “Patience,” she said, trying not to smile too much as she turned down

a corner, creeping along. “It’s just up this way.”

On she went, offering whispers of conversation, until she neared the crossroads where the Valg commanders liked to meet with their Wyrdhound overseer and fell silent. There, she dumped the spare cloak she’d brought, and then backtracked to a ladder leading up to the street.

Aelin’s breath caught as she pushed against the grate, and it mercifully gave.

She heaved herself onto the street, her hands unsteady. For a moment, she contemplated lying there on the filthy, wet cobblestones, savoring the

free air around her. But he was too close. So she silently sealed the grate again.

It took only a minute before near-silent boots scraped on stone below, and a figure moved past the ladder, heading to where she’d left the cape, tracking her as he’d done all night.

As she’d let him do all night.

And when Lorcan walked right into that den of Valg commanders and the Wyrdhound that had come to retrieve their reports, when the clash of weapons and roar of dying filled her ears, Aelin merely sauntered down the street, whistling to herself.



Aelin was striding down an alley three blocks from the warehouse when a force akin to a stone wall slammed her face-first into the side of a brick building.

“You little bitch,” Lorcan snarled in her ear.

Both of her arms were somehow already pinned behind her back, his legs digging hard enough into hers that she couldn’t move them.

“Hello, Lorcan,” she said sweetly, turning her throbbing face as much as she could.

From the corner of her eye, she could make out cruel features beneath his dark hood, along with onyx eyes and matching shoulder-length hair, and—damn. Elongated canines shone far too near her throat.

One hand gripped her arms like a steel vise; Lorcan used the other to push her head against the damp brick so hard her cheek scraped. “You think that was funny?”

“It was worth a shot, wasn’t it?”

He reeked of blood—that awful, otherworldly Valg blood. He pushed her face a little harder into the wall, his body an immovable force against her. “I’m going to kill you.”

“Ah, about that,” she said, and shifted her wrist just enough for him to feel the blade she’d flicked free in the moment before she’d sensed his attack—the steel now resting against his groin. “Immortality seems like a long, long time to go without your favorite body part.”

“I’ll rip out your throat before you can move.”

She pressed the blade harder against him. “Big risk to take, isn’t it?”

For a moment, Lorcan remained unmoving, still shoving her into the wall with the force of five centuries of lethal training. Then cool air nipped at her neck, her back. By the time she whirled, Lorcan was several paces away.

In the darkness, she could barely make out the granite-hewn features, but she remembered enough from that day in Doranelle to guess that beneath his hood, the unforgiving face was livid. “Honestly,” she said, leaning against the wall, “I’m a little surprised you fell for it. You must think I’m truly stupid.”

“Where’s Rowan?” he sneered. His close-fitting dark clothes, armored with black metal at the forearms and shoulders, seemed to gobble up the dim light. “Still warming your bed?”

She didn’t want to know how Lorcan knew that. “Isn’t that all you pretty males are good for?” She looked him up and down, marking the many weapons both visible and concealed. Massive—as massive as Rowan and Aedion. And utterly unimpressed by her. “Did you kill all of them? There were only three by my count.”

“There were six of them, and one of those stone demons, you bitch, and you knew it.”

So he had found a way to kill one of the Wyrdhounds. Interesting— and good. “You know, I’m really rather tired of being called that. You’d think five centuries would give you enough time to come up with something more creative.”

“Come a little closer, and I’ll show you just what five centuries can do.”

“Why don’t I show you what happens when you whip my friends, you spineless prick?”

Violence danced across those brutal features. “Such a big mouth for someone without her fire tricks.”

“Such a big mouth for someone who needs to mind his surroundings.”

Rowan’s knife was angled along Lorcan’s throat before he could so much as blink.

She’d been wondering how long it would take him to find her. He’d probably awakened the moment she pushed back the covers. “Start talking,” Rowan ordered Lorcan.

Lorcan gripped his sword—a mighty, beautiful weapon that she had no doubt had ended many lives on killing fields in distant lands. “You don’t want to get into this fight right now.”

“Give me a good reason not to spill your blood,” Rowan said.

“If I die, Maeve will offer aid to the King of Adarlan against you.” “Bullshit,” Aelin spat.

“Friends close but enemies closer, right?” Lorcan said.

Slowly, Rowan let go of him and stepped away. All three of them monitored every movement the others made, until Rowan was at Aelin’s

side, his teeth bared at Lorcan. The aggression pouring off the Fae Prince was enough to make her jumpy.

“You made a fatal mistake,” Lorcan said to her, “the moment you showed my queen that vision of you with the key.” He flicked his black eyes to Rowan. “And you. You stupid fool. Allying yourself—binding yourself to a mortal queen. What will you do, Rowan, when she grows old and dies? What about when she looks old enough to be your mother? Will you still share her bed, still—”

“That’s enough,” Rowan said softly. She didn’t let one flicker of the emotions that shot through her show, didn’t dare to even think about them for fear Lorcan could smell them.

Lorcan just laughed. “You think you beat Maeve? She allowed you to walk out of Doranelle—both of you.”

Aelin yawned. “Honestly, Rowan, I don’t know how you put up with him for so many centuries. Five minutes and I’m bored to tears.”

“Watch yourself, girl,” Lorcan said. “Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not in a week, but someday you will trip up. And I’ll be waiting.”

“Really—you Fae males and your dramatic speeches.” She turned to walk away, a move she could make only because of the prince standing between them. But she looked back over her shoulder, dropping all pretense of amusement, of boredom. Let that killing calm rise close enough to the surface that she knew there was nothing human in her eyes as she said to Lorcan, “I will never forget, not for one moment, what you did to him that day in Doranelle. Your miserable existence is at the bottom of my priority list, but one day, Lorcan …” She smiled a little. “One day, I’ll come to claim that debt, too. Consider tonight a warning.”



Aelin had just unlocked the warehouse door when Rowan’s deep voice purred from behind, “Busy night, Princess?”

She hauled open the door, and the two of them slipped into the near-black warehouse, illuminated only by a lantern near the back stairs. She took her time locking the sliding door behind her. “Busy, but enjoyable.”

“You’re going to have to try a lot harder to sneak past me,” Rowan said, the words laced with a growl.

“You and Aedion are insufferable.” Thank the gods Lorcan hadn’t seen Aedion—hadn’t scented his heritage. “I was perfectly safe.” Lie. She hadn’t been sure whether Lorcan would even show up—or whether he would fall for her little trap.

Rowan poked her cheek gently, and pain rippled. “You’re lucky scraping you is all he did. The next time you sneak out to pick a fight with Lorcan, you will tell me beforehand.”

“I will do no such thing. It’s my damn business, and—”

“It’s not just your business, not anymore. You will take me along with you the next time.”

“The next time I sneak out,” she seethed, “if I catch you following me like some overprotective nursemaid, I will—”

“You’ll what?” He stepped up close enough to share breath with her, his fangs flashing.

In the light of the lantern, she could clearly see his eyes—and he could see hers as she silently said, I don’t know what I’ll do, you bastard, but I’ll make your life a living hell for it.

He snarled, and the sound stroked down her skin as she read the unspoken words in his eyes. Stop being stubborn. Is this some attempt to cling to your independence?

And so what if it is? she shot back. Just—let me do these things on my own.

“I can’t promise that,” he said, the dim light caressing his tan skin, the elegant tattoo.

She punched him in the bicep—hurting herself more than him. “Just because you’re older and stronger doesn’t mean you’re entitled to order me around.”

“It’s exactly because of those things that I can do whatever I please.”

She let out a high-pitched sound and went to pinch his side, and he grabbed her hand, squeezing it tightly, dragging her a step closer to him. She tilted her head back to look at him.

For a moment, alone in that warehouse with nothing but the crates keeping them company, she allowed herself to take in his face, those green eyes, the strong jaw.

Immortal. Unyielding. Blooded with power. “Brute.”


She loosed a breathy laugh.

“Did you really lure Lorcan into a sewer with one of those creatures?” “It was such an easy trap that I’m actually disappointed he fell for it.” Rowan chuckled. “You never stop surprising me.”

“He hurt you. I’m never going to forgive that.”

“Plenty of people have hurt me. If you’re going to go after every one, you’ll have a busy life ahead of you.”

She didn’t smile. “What he said—about me getting old—” “Don’t. Just—don’t start with that. Go to sleep.”

“What about you?”

He studied the warehouse door. “I wouldn’t put it past Lorcan to return the favor you dealt him tonight. He forgets and forgives even less easily than you do. Especially when someone threatens to cut off his manhood.”

“At least I said it would be a big mistake,” she said with a fiendish grin. “I was tempted to say ‘little.’”

Rowan laughed, his eyes dancing. “Then you definitely would have been dead.”

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