Chapter no 68

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, 4)

Lysandra’s carriage meandered through the packed city streets. Every block took thrice as long as usual, thanks to the streaming crowds headed to the markets and squares to celebrate the solstice. None of them were aware of what was to occur, or who was making her way across the city.

Lysandra’s palms turned sweaty within her silk gloves. Evangeline, drowsy with the morning heat, dozed lightly, her head resting on Lysandra’s shoulder.

They should have left last night, but … But she’d had to say good-bye.

Brightly dressed revelers pushed past the carriage, and the driver shouted to clear out of the street. Everyone ignored him.

Gods, if Aelin wanted an audience, she’d picked the perfect day for it. Lysandra peered out the window as they halted in an intersection. The street offered a clear view of the glass palace, blinding in the

midmorning sun, its upper spires like lances piercing the cloudless sky. “Are we there yet?” Evangeline mumbled.

Lysandra stroked her arm. “A while yet, pet.”

And she began praying—praying to Mala Fire-Bringer, whose holiday had dawned so bright and clear, and to Temis, who never forgot the caged things of this world.

But she was no longer in a cage. For Evangeline, she could stay in this carriage, and she could leave this city. Even if it meant leaving her friends behind.



Aedion gritted his teeth against the weight he held so delicately between his hands. It was going to be a damn long trek to the castle. Especially when they had to ease across waterways and over crumbling bits of stone that made even their Fae balance unsteady.

But this was the way the Wyrdhounds had come. Even if Aelin and Nesryn hadn’t provided a detailed path, the lingering stench would have led the way.

“Careful,” Rowan said over his shoulder as he hoisted the vat he carried higher and edged around a loose bit of rock. Aedion bit back his

retort at the obvious order. But he couldn’t blame the prince. One tumble, and they’d risk the various substances mixing inside.

A few days ago, not trusting Shadow Market quality, Chaol and Aedion had found an abandoned barn outside the city to test an urn barely a tenth the size of the ones they carried.

It had worked too well. As they’d hurried back to Rifthold before curious eyes could see them, the smoke could be seen for miles.

Aedion shuddered to think about what a vat this size—let alone two of them—might do if they weren’t careful.

But by the time they rigged up the triggering mechanisms and ignited the wicks they would trail a long, long distance away … Well, Aedion just prayed he and Rowan were swift enough.

They entered a sewer tunnel so dark that it took even his eyes a moment to adjust. Rowan just continued ahead. They were damn lucky that Lorcan had killed those Wyrdhounds and cleared the way. Damn lucky that Aelin had been ruthless and clever enough to trick Lorcan into doing it for them.

He didn’t stop to consider what might happen if that ruthlessness and cleverness failed her today.

They turned down another pathway, the reek now smothering. Rowan’s sharp sniff was the only sign of his mutual disgust. The gateway.

The iron gates were in shambles, but Aedion could still make out the markings etched in them.

Wyrdmarks. Ancient, too. Perhaps this had once been a path Gavin had used to visit the Sin-Eater’s temple unseen.

The otherworldly stench of the creatures pushed and pulled at Aedion’s senses, and he paused, scanning the darkness of the looming tunnel.

Here the water ended. Past the gates, a broken, rocky path that looked more ancient than any they’d yet seen sloped up into the impenetrable gloom.

“Watch where you step,” Rowan said, scanning the tunnel. “It’s all loose stone and debris.”

“I can see just as well as you,” Aedion said, unable to stop the retort this time. He rotated his shoulder, the cuff of his tunic slipping up to reveal the Wyrdmarks Aelin had instructed them to paint in their own blood all over their torsos, arms, and legs.

“Let’s go,” was Rowan’s only reply as he hauled his vat along as if it weighed nothing.

Aedion debated snapping a response, but … perhaps that was why the warrior-prince kept giving him stupid warnings. To piss him off enough to distract him—and maybe Rowan himself—from what was happening above them. What they carried between them.

The Old Ways—to look out for their queen and their kingdom—but also for each other.

Damn, it was almost enough to make him want to embrace the bastard. So Aedion followed Rowan through the iron gates.

And into the castle catacombs.



Chaol’s chains clanked, the manacles already rubbing his skin raw as Aelin tugged him down the crowded street, a dagger poised to sink into his side. One block remained until they reached the iron fence that surrounded the sloping hill on which the castle perched.

Crowds streamed past, not noticing the chained man in their midst or the black-cloaked woman who hauled him closer and closer to the glass castle.

“You remember the plan?” Aelin murmured, keeping her head down and her dagger pressed against his side.

“Yes,” he breathed. It was the only word he could manage.

Dorian was still in there—still holding on. It changed everything. And nothing.

The crowds quieted near the fence, as if wary of the black-uniformed guards that surely monitored the entrance. The first obstacle they’d encounter.

Aelin stiffened almost imperceptibly and paused so suddenly that Chaol almost slammed into her. “Chaol—”

The crowd shifted, and he beheld the castle fence.

There were corpses hanging from the towering wrought-iron bars. Corpses in red and gold uniforms.


He was already moving, and she swore and walked with him, pretending to lead him by the chains, keeping the dagger tight to his ribs. He didn’t know how he hadn’t heard the crows jabbering as they picked at the dead flesh tied along each iron post. With the crowd, he hadn’t thought to notice. Or maybe he’d just gotten used to the cawing in

every corner of the city.

His men.

Sixteen of them. His closest companions, his most loyal guards.

The first one had the collar of his uniform unbuttoned, revealing a chest crisscrossed with welts and cuts and brands.


How long had they tortured him—tortured all the men? Since Aedion’s rescue?

He racked his mind to think of the last time they’d had contact. He’d assumed the difficulty was because they were lying low. Not because— because they were being—

Chaol noticed the man strung up beside Ress.

Brullo’s eyes were gone, either from torture or the crows. His hands were swollen and twisted—part of his ear was missing.

Chaol had no sounds in his head, no feeling in his body.

It was a message, but not to Aelin Galathynius or Aedion Ashryver. His fault. His.

He and Aelin didn’t speak as they neared the iron gates, the death of those men lingering over them. Every step was an effort. Every step was too fast.

His fault.

“I’m sorry,” Aelin murmured, nudging him closer to the gates, where black-uniformed guards were indeed monitoring every face that passed on the street. “I’m so sorry—”

“The plan,” he said, his voice shaking. “We change it. Now.” “Chaol—”

He told her what he needed to do. When he finished, she wiped away her tears as she gripped his hand and said, “I’ll make it count.”

The tears were gone by the time they broke from the crowd, nothing between them and those familiar gates but open cobblestones.

Home—this had once been his home.

He did not recognize the guards standing watch at the gates he had once protected so proudly, the gates he had ridden through not even a year ago with an assassin newly freed from Endovier, her chains tied to his saddle.

Now she led him in chains through those gates, an assassin one last time.

Her walk became a swagger, and she moved with fluid ease toward the guards who drew their swords, their black rings gobbling up the sunlight. Celaena Sardothien halted a healthy distance away and lifted her chin. “Tell His Majesty that his Champion has returned—and she’s brought

him one hell of a prize.”

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