Chapter no 50

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, 4)

“How did those lowlifes keep this place a secret?” Aelin breathed as she turned to Chaol.

The four of them stood atop a small staircase, the cavernous space beyond them illuminated in flickering gold by the torches Aedion and Rowan bore.

Chaol was shaking his head, surveying the space. Not a sign of scavengers, thank the gods. “Legend has it that the Shadow Market was built on the bones of the god of truth.”

“Well, they got the bones part right.”

In every wall, skulls and bones were artfully arranged—and every wall, even the ceiling, had been formed from them. Even the floor at the foot of the stairs was laid with bones of varying shapes and sizes.

“These aren’t ordinary catacombs,” Rowan said, setting down his torch. “This was a temple.”

Indeed, altars, benches, and even a dark reflection pool lay in the massive space. Still more sprawled away into shadow.

“There’s writing on the bones,” Aedion said, striding down the steps and onto the bone floor. Aelin grimaced.

“Careful,” Rowan said as Aedion went to the nearest wall. Her cousin lifted a hand in lazy dismissal.

“It’s in every language—all in different handwriting,” Aedion marveled, holding his torch aloft as he moved along the wall. “Listen to this one here: ‘I am a liar. I am a thief. I took my sister’s husband and laughed while I did it.’” A pause. He silently read another. “None of this writing … I don’t think these were good people.”

Aelin scanned the bone temple. “We should be quick,” she said. “Really damn quick. Aedion, you take that wall; Chaol, the center; Rowan, the right. I’ll grab the back. Careful of where you wave your fire.” Gods help them if they unwittingly placed a torch near the hellfire.

She took a step down, and then another. Then the last one, onto the bone floor.

A shudder crawled through her, and she glanced at Rowan out of instinct. His tight face told her all she needed to know. But he still said,

“This is a bad place.”

Chaol strode past them, his sword out. “Then let’s find this hellfire supply and get out.”


All around them, the empty eyes of the skulls in the walls, in the structures, the pillars in the center of the room, seemed to watch.

“Seems like this god of truth,” Aedion called from his wall, “was more of a Sin-Eater than anything. You should read some of the things people wrote—the horrible things they did. I think this was a place for them to be buried, and to confess on the bones of other sinners.”

“No wonder no one wanted to come here,” Aelin muttered as she strode off into the dark.



The temple went on and on, and they found supplies—but no whisper of scavengers or other residents. Drugs, money, jewelry, all hidden inside skulls and within some of the bone crypts on the floor. But no hellfire.

Their cautious steps on the bone floor were the only sounds.

Aelin moved deeper and deeper into the gloom. Rowan soon cleared his side of the temple and joined her in the back, exploring the alcoves and little hallways that branched off into the slumbering dark. “The language,” Aelin said to him. “It gets older and older the farther back we go. The way they spell the words, I mean.”

Rowan twisted toward her from where he’d been carefully opening a sarcophagus. She doubted an ordinary man would be able to shift the stone lid. “Some of them even date their confessions. I just saw one from seven hundred years ago.”

“Makes you seem young, doesn’t it?”

He gave her a wry smile. She quickly looked away.

The bone floor clicked as he stepped toward her. “Aelin.”

She swallowed hard, staring at a carved bone near her head. I killed a man for sport when I was twenty and never told anyone where I buried himI kept his finger bone in a drawer.

Dated nine hundred years ago. Nine hundred—

Aelin studied the darkness beyond. If the Shadow Market dated back to Gavin, then this place had to have been built before it—or around the same time.

The god of truth …

She drew Damaris from across her back, and Rowan tensed. “What is it?”

She examined the flawless blade. “The Sword of Truth. That’s what they called Damaris. Legend said the bearer—Gavin—could see the truth when he wielded it.”


“Mala blessed Brannon, and she blessed Goldryn.” She peered into the gloom. “What if there was a god of truth—a Sin-Eater? What if he blessed Gavin, and this sword?”

Rowan now stared toward the ancient blackness. “You think Gavin used this temple.”

Aelin weighed the mighty sword in her hands. “What sins did you confess to, Gavin?” she whispered into the dark.



Deep into the tunnels they went, so far that when Aedion’s triumphant cry of “Found it!” reached Aelin and Rowan, she could barely hear it. And barely cared.

Not when she stood before the back wall—the wall behind the altar of what had no doubt been the original temple. Here the bones were nearly crumbling with age, the writing almost impossible to read.

The wall behind the altar was of pure stone—white marble—and carved in Wyrdmarks.

And in the center was a giant rendering of the Eye of Elena.

Cold. It was so cold in here that their breath clouded in front of them, mingling.

“Whoever this god of truth was,” Rowan murmured, as if trying not to be overheard by the dead, “he was not a benevolent sort of deity.”

No; with a temple built from the bones of murderers and thieves and worse, she doubted this god had been a particular favorite. No wonder he’d been forgotten.

Aelin stepped up to the stone.

Damaris turned icy in her hand—so frigid her fingers splayed, and she dropped the sword on the altar floor and backed away. Its clang against the bones was like thunder.

Rowan was instantly at her side, his swords out. The stone wall before them groaned.

It began shifting, the symbols rotating, altering themselves. From the flicker of her memory she heard the words: It is only with the Eye that one can see rightly.

“Honestly,” Aelin said as the wall at last stopped rearranging itself from the proximity of the sword. A new, intricate array of Wyrdmarks had formed. “I don’t know why these coincidences keep surprising me.”

“Can you read it?” Rowan asked. Aedion called their names, and Rowan called back, telling them both to come.

Aelin stared up at the carvings. “It might take me some time.” “Do it. I don’t think it was chance that we found this place.”

Aelin shook off her shiver. No—nothing was ever chance. Not when it came to Elena and the Wyrdkeys. So she loosed a breath and began.

“It’s … it’s about Elena and Gavin,” she said. “The first panel here”— she pointed to a stretch of symbols—“describes them as the first King and Queen of Adarlan, how they were mated. Then … then it jumps back. To the war.”

Footsteps sounded and light flickered as Aedion and Chaol reached them. Chaol whistled.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” Aedion said. He frowned at the giant rendering of the Eye, and then at the one around Aelin’s neck.

“Get comfortable,” she said.

Aelin read a few more lines, deciphering and decoding. So hard—the Wyrdmarks were so damn hard to read. “It describes the demon wars with the Valg that had been left here after the First War. And …” She read the line again. “And the Valg this time were led …” Her blood chilled. “By one of the three kings—the king who remained trapped here after the gate was sealed. It says that to look upon a king—to look upon a Valg king was to gaze into …” She shook her head. “Madness? Despair? I don’t know that symbol. He could take any form, but he appeared to them now as a handsome man with golden eyes. The eyes of the Valg kings.”

She scanned the next panel. “They did not know his true name, so they called him Erawan, the Dark King.”

Aedion said, “Then Elena and Gavin battled him, your magic necklace saved their asses, and Elena called him by his true name, distracting him enough for Gavin to slay him.”

“Yes, yes,” Aelin said, waving a hand. “But—no.” “No?” Chaol said.

Aelin read further, and her heart skipped a beat. “What is it?” Rowan demanded, as if his Fae ears had noted her heart’s stutter.

She swallowed hard, running a shaking finger under a line of symbols. “This … this is Gavin’s confessional. From his deathbed.”

None of them spoke.

Her voice trembled as she said, “They did not slay him. Not by sword, or fire, or water, or might could Erawan be slain or his body be destroyed. The Eye …” Aelin touched her hand to the necklace; the metal was warm. “The Eye contained him. Only for a short time. No— not contained. But … put him to sleep?”

“I have a very, very bad feeling about this,” Aedion said.

“So they built him a sarcophagus of iron and some sort of indestructible stone. And they put it in a sealed tomb beneath a mountain

—a crypt so dark … so dark that there was no air, no light. Upon the labyrinth of doors,” she read, “they put symbols, unbreakable by any thief or key or force.”

“You’re saying that they never killed Erawan,” Chaol said.

Gavin had been Dorian’s childhood hero, she recalled. And the story had been a lie. Elena had lied to her—

“Where did they bury him?” Rowan asked softly.

“They buried him …” Her hands shook so badly that she lowered them to her sides. “They buried him in the Black Mountains, and built a keep atop the tomb, so that the noble family who dwelled above might forever guard it.”

“There are no Black Mountains in Adarlan,” Chaol said.

Aelin’s mouth went dry. “Rowan,” she said quietly. “How do you say ‘Black Mountains’ in the Old Language?”

A pause, and then a loosened breath. “Morath,” Rowan said.

She turned to them, her eyes wide. For a moment, they all just stared at one another.

“What are the odds,” she said, “that the king is sending his forces down to Morath by mere coincidence?”

“What are the odds,” Aedion countered, “that our illustrious king has acquired a key that can unlock any door—even a door between worlds— and his second in command happens to own the very place where Erawan is buried?”

“The king is insane,” Chaol said. “If he plans to raise Erawan—” “Who says he hasn’t already?” Aedion asked.

Aelin glanced at Rowan. His face was grim. If there is a Valg king in this world, we need to move fast. Get those Wyrdkeys and banish them all back to their hellhole.

She nodded. “Why now, though? He’s had the two keys for at least a decade. Why bring the Valg over now?”

“It would make sense,” Chaol said, “if he’s doing it in anticipation of raising Erawan again. To have an army ready for him to lead.”

Aelin’s breathing was shallow. “The summer solstice is in ten days. If we bring magic down on the solstice, when the sun is strongest, there’s a good chance my power will be greater then, too.” She turned to Aedion. “Tell me you found a lot of hellfire.”

His nod wasn’t as reassuring as she’d hoped.

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