Chapter no 6

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, 4)

“You get one sentence,” Aelin breathed in the woman’s ear as she pressed the dagger harder against her neck. “One sentence to convince me not to spill your throat on the ground.”

The woman stepped off the stairs and, to her credit, wasn’t stupid enough to go for the concealed weapons at her side. With her back against Aelin’s chest, her weapons were beyond reach, anyway. She swallowed, her throat bobbing against the dagger Aelin held along her smooth skin. “I’m taking you to the captain.”

Aelin dug the knife in a bit more. “Not all that compelling to someone with a blade at your throat.”

“Three weeks ago, he abandoned his position at the castle and fled. To join our cause. The rebel cause.”

Aelin’s knees threatened to buckle.

She supposed she should have included three parties in her plans: the king, Arobynn, and the rebels—who might very well have a score to settle with her after she’d gutted Archer Finn last winter. Even if Chaol was working with them.

She shut the thought down before its full impact hit her. “And the prince?”

“Alive, but still at the castle,” the rebel hissed. “Is that enough for you to put the knife down?”

Yes. No. If Chaol was now working with the rebels … Aelin lowered her knife and stepped back into a pool of moonlight trickling in from an overhead grate.

The rebel whirled and reached for one of her knives. Aelin clicked her tongue. The woman’s fingers paused on the well-polished hilt.

“I decide to spare you, and that’s how you repay me?” Aelin said, tugging back her hood. “I don’t particularly know why I’m surprised.”

The rebel let go of her knife and pulled off her own hood, revealing her pretty, tanned face—solemn and wholly unafraid. Her dark eyes fixed on Aelin, scanning. Ally or enemy?

“Tell me why you came here,” the rebel said quietly. “The captain says you’re on our side. Yet you hid from him at the Vaults tonight.”

Aelin crossed her arms and leaned against the damp stone wall behind her. “Let’s start with you telling me your name.”

“My name is not your concern.”

Aelin lifted a brow. “You demand answers but refuse to give me any in return. No wonder the captain had you sit out the meeting. Hard to play the game when you don’t know the rules.”

“I heard what happened this winter. That you went to the warehouse and killed so many of us. You slaughtered rebels—my friends.” That cool, calm mask didn’t so much as flinch. “And yet I’m now supposed to believe you were on our side all along. Forgive me if I’m not forthright with you.”

“Should I not kill the people who kidnap and beat my friends?” Aelin said softly. “Am I not supposed to react with violence when I receive notes threatening to kill my friends? Am I not supposed to gut the self-serving prick who had my beloved friend assassinated?” She pushed off the wall, stalking toward the woman. “Would you like me to apologize? Should I grovel on my knees for any of that?” The rebel’s face showed nothing—either from training or genuine iciness. Aelin snorted. “I thought so. So why don’t you take me to the captain and save the self-righteous bullshit for later?”

The woman glanced toward the darkness again and shook her head slightly. “If you hadn’t put a blade to my throat, I would have told you that we’d arrived.” She pointed to the tunnel ahead. “You’re welcome.”

Aelin debated slamming the woman into the filthy, wet wall just to remind her who, exactly, the King’s Champion was, but then ragged breathing scraped past her ears, coming from that darkness. Human breathing—and whispers.

Boots sliding and thumping against stone, more whispers—hushed demands from voices she didn’t recognize to hurry, and quiet now, and

Aelin’s muscles locked up as one male voice hissed, “We’ve got twenty minutes until that ship leaves. Move.”

She knew that voice.

But she still couldn’t brace herself for the full impact of Chaol Westfall staggering out of the darkness at the end of the tunnel, holding a limp, too-thin man between himself and a companion, another armed man guarding their backs.

Even from the distance, the captain’s eyes locked onto Aelin’s. He didn’t smile.

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