Chapter no 64

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, 4)

Rowan barely remembered anything of the agonizing trip back to Rifthold. By the time they had snuck across the city walls and through the alleys to reach the warehouse, he was so exhausted that he’d hardly hit the mattress before unconsciousness dragged him under.

He awoke that night—or was it the next?—with Aelin and Aedion sitting on the side of the bed, talking.

“Solstice is in six days; we need to have everything lined up by then,” she was saying to her cousin.

“So you’re going to ask Ress and Brullo to just leave a back door open so you can sneak in?”

“Don’t be so simpleminded. I’m going to walk in through the front door.”

Of course she was. Rowan let out a groan, his tongue dry and heavy in his mouth.

She whirled to him, half lunging across the bed. “How are you feeling?” She brushed a hand over his forehead, testing for fever. “You seem all right.”

“Fine,” he grunted. His arm and shoulder ached. But he’d endured worse. The blood loss had been what knocked his feet out from under him—more blood than he’d ever lost at once, at least so quickly, thanks to his magic being stifled. He ran an eye over Aelin. Her face was drawn and pale, a bruise kissed her cheekbone, and four scratches marred her neck.

He was going to slaughter that witch.

He said as much, and Aelin smiled. “If you’re in the mood for violence, then I suppose you’re just fine.” But the words were thick, and her eyes gleamed. He reached out with his good arm to grip one of her hands and squeezed tightly. “Please don’t ever do that again,” she breathed.

“Next time, I’ll ask them not to fire arrows at you—or me.”

Her mouth tightened and wobbled, and she rested her brow on his good arm. He lifted the other arm, sending burning pain shooting

through him as he stroked her hair. It was still matted in a few spots with blood and dirt. She must not have even bothered with a full bath.

Aedion cleared his throat. “We’ve been thinking up a plan for freeing magic—and taking out the king and Dorian.”

“Just—tell me tomorrow,” Rowan said, a headache already blooming. The mere thought of explaining to them again that every time he’d seen hellfire used it had been more destructive than anyone could anticipate made him want to go back to sleep. Gods, without his magic … Humans were remarkable. To be able to survive without leaning on magic … He had to give them credit.

Aedion yawned—the lousiest attempt at one Rowan had ever seen— and excused himself.

“Aedion,” Rowan said, and the general paused in the doorway. “Thank you.”

“Anytime, brother.” He walked out.

Aelin was looking between them, her lips pursed again. “What?” he said.

She shook her head. “You’re too nice when you’re wounded. It’s unsettling.”

Seeing the tears shine in her eyes just now had nearly unsettled him. If magic had already been freed, those witches would have been ashes the moment that arrow hit him. “Go take a bath,” he growled. “I’m not sleeping next to you while you’re covered in that witch’s blood.”

She examined her nails, still slightly lined with dirt and blue blood. “Ugh. I’ve washed them ten times already.” She rose from her seat on the side of the bed.

“Why,” he asked. “Why did you save her?”

She dragged a hand through her hair. A white bandage around her upper arm peeked through her shirt with the movement. He hadn’t even been conscious for that wound. He stifled the urge to demand to see it, assess the injury himself—and tug her close against him.

“Because that golden-haired witch, Asterin … ,” Aelin said. “She screamed Manon’s name the way I screamed yours.”

Rowan stilled. His queen gazed at the floor, as if recalling the moment.

“How can I take away somebody who means the world to someone else? Even if she’s my enemy.” A little shrug. “I thought you were dying. It seemed like bad luck to let her die out of spite. And …” she snorted. “Falling into a ravine seemed like a pretty shitty way to die for someone who fights that spectacularly.”

Rowan smiled, drinking in the sight of her: the pale, grave face; the dirty clothes; the injuries. Yet her shoulders were back, chin high. “You make me proud to serve you.”

A jaunty slant to her lips, but silver lined her eyes. “I know.”



“You look like shit,” Lysandra said to Aelin. Then she remembered Evangeline, who stared at her wide-eyed, and winced. “Sorry.”

Evangeline refolded her napkin in her lap, every inch the dainty little queen. “You said I’m not to use such language—and yet you do.”

“I can curse,” Lysandra said as Aelin suppressed a smile, “because I’m older, and I know when it’s most effective. And right now, our friend looks like absolute shit.”

Evangeline lifted her eyes to Aelin, her red-gold hair bright in the morning sun through the kitchen window. “You look even worse in the morning, Lysandra.”

Aelin choked out a laugh. “Careful, Lysandra. You’ve got a hellion on your hands.”

Lysandra gave her young ward a long look. “If you’ve finished eating the tarts clean off our plates, Evangeline, go onto the roof and raise hell for Aedion and Rowan.”

“Take care with Rowan,” Aelin added. “He’s still on the mend. But pretend that he isn’t. Men get pissy if you fuss.”

A wicked gleam in her eye, Evangeline bounded for the front door. Aelin listened to make sure the girl did indeed go upstairs, and then turned to her friend. “She’s going to be a handful when she’s older.”

Lysandra groaned. “You think I don’t know that? Eleven years old, and she’s already a tyrant. It’s an endless stream of Why? and I would prefer not to and why, why, why and no, I should not like to listen to your good advice, Lysandra.” She rubbed her temples.

“A tyrant, but a brave one,” Aelin said. “I don’t think there are many eleven-year-olds who would do what she did to save you.” The swelling had gone down, but bruises still marred Lysandra’s face, and the small, scabbed cut near her lip remained an angry red. “And I don’t think there are many nineteen-year-olds who would fight tooth and nail to save a child.” Lysandra stared down at the table. “I’m sorry,” Aelin said. “Even though Arobynn orchestrated it—I’m sorry.”

“You came for me,” Lysandra said so quietly that it was hardly a breath. “All of you—you came for me.” She had told Nesryn and Chaol in detail of her overnight stay in a hidden dungeon beneath the city

streets; already, the rebels were combing the sewers for it. She remembered little of the rest, having been blindfolded and gagged. Wondering if they would put a Wyrdstone ring on her finger had been the worst of it, she said. That dread would haunt her for a while.

“You thought we wouldn’t come for you?”

“I’ve never had friends who cared what happened to me, other than Sam and Wesley. Most people would have let me be taken—dismissed me as just another whore.”

“I’ve been thinking about that.” “Oh?”

Aelin reached into her pocket and pushed a folded piece of paper across the table. “It’s for you. And her.”

“We don’t need—” Lysandra’s eyes fell upon the wax seal. A snake in midnight ink: Clarisse’s sigil. “What is this?”

“Open it.”

Glancing between her and the paper, Lysandra cracked the seal and read the text.

“I, Clarisse DuVency, hereby declare that any debts owed to me by—” The paper began shaking.

“Any debts owed to me by Lysandra and Evangeline are now paid in full. At their earliest convenience, they may receive the Mark of their freedom.”

The paper fluttered to the table as Lysandra’s hands slackened. She raised her head to look at Aelin.

“Och,” Aelin said, even as her own eyes filled. “I hate you for being so beautiful, even when you cry.”

“Do you know how much money—”

“Did you think I’d leave you enslaved to her?”

“I don’t … I don’t know what to say to you. I don’t know how to thank you—”

“You don’t need to.”

Lysandra put her face in her hands and sobbed.

“I’m sorry if you wanted to do the proud and noble thing and stick it out for another decade,” Aelin began.

Lysandra only wept harder.

“But you have to understand that there was no rutting way I was going to leave without—”

“Shut up, Aelin,” Lysandra said through her hands. “Just—shut up.” She lowered her hands, her face now puffy and splotchy.

Aelin sighed. “Oh, thank the gods. You can look hideous when you cry.”

Lysandra burst out laughing.



Manon and Asterin stayed in the mountains all day and night after her Second revealed her invisible wound. They caught mountain goats for themselves and their wyverns and roasted them over a fire that night as they carefully considered what they might do.

When Manon eventually dozed off, curled against Abraxos with a blanket of stars overhead, her head felt clearer than it had in months. And yet something nagged at her, even in sleep.

She knew what it was when she awoke. A loose thread in the loom of the Three-Faced Goddess.

“You ready?” Asterin said, mounting her pale-blue wyvern and smiling—a real smile.

Manon had never seen that smile. She wondered how many people had. Wondered if she herself had ever smiled that way.

Manon gazed northward. “There’s something I need to do.” When she explained it to her Second, Asterin didn’t hesitate to declare that she would go with her.

So they stopped by Morath long enough to get supplies. They let Sorrel and Vesta know the bare details, and instructed them to tell the duke she’d been called away.

They were airborne within an hour, flying hard and fast above the clouds to keep hidden.

Mile after mile they flew. Manon couldn’t tell why that thread kept yanking, why it felt so urgent, but she pushed them hard, all the way to Rifthold.



Four days. Elide had been in this freezing, festering dungeon for four days.

It was so cold that she could hardly sleep, and the food they chucked in was barely edible. Fear kept her alert, prompting her to test the door, to watch the guards whenever they opened it, to study the halls behind them. She learned nothing useful.

Four days—and Manon had not come for her. None of the Blackbeaks had.

She didn’t know why she expected it. Manon had forced her to spy on that chamber, after all.

She tried not to think about what might await her now.

Tried, and failed. She wondered if anyone would even remember her name when she was dead. If it would ever be carved anywhere.

She knew the answer. And knew there was no one coming for her.

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