Chapter no 79

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, 4)

The bridge exploded from beneath her, and the world turned into shards of flying glass.

Aelin plummeted into open air, towers crashing down around her.

She flung out her magic in a cocoon, burning through the glass as she fell and fell and fell.

People were screaming—screaming as Dorian brought the castle down for Chaol, for Sorscha, and sent a tidal wave of glass rushing toward the city lying below.

Down and down Aelin went, the ground surging up, the buildings around her rupturing, the light so bright on all the fragments—

Aelin pulled out every last drop of her magic as the castle collapsed, the lethal wave of glass cascading toward Rifthold.

Wildfire raced for the gates, raced against the wind, against death.

And as the wave of glass crested the iron gates, shredding through the corpses tied there as if they were paper, a wall of fire erupted before it, shooting sky-high, spreading wide. Halting it.

A wind shoved against her, brutal and unforgiving, her bones groaning as it pushed her up, not down. She didn’t care—not when she yielded the entirety of her magic, the entirety of her being, to holding the barrier of flame now shielding Rifthold. A few more seconds, then she could die.

The wind tore at her, and it sounded like it was roaring her name. Wave after wave of glass and debris slammed into her wildfire.

But she kept that wall of flame burning—for the Royal Theater. And the flower girls at the market. For the slaves and the courtesans and the Faliq family. For the city that had offered her joy and pain, death and rebirth, for the city that had given her music, Aelin kept that wall of fire burning bright.

There was blood raining down among the glass—blood that sizzled on her little cocoon of flame, reeking of darkness and pain.

The wind kept blowing until it swept that dark blood away.

Still Aelin held the shield around the city, held on to the final promise she’d made to Chaol.

I’ll make it count.

She held on until the ground rose up to meet her— And she landed softly in the grass.

Then darkness slammed into the back of her head.



The world was so bright.

Aelin Galathynius groaned as she pushed herself onto her elbows, the small hill of grass beneath her untouched and vibrant. Only a moment— she’d been out for only a moment.

She raised her head, her skull throbbing as she shoved her unbound hair from her eyes and looked at what she had done.

What Dorian had done. The glass castle was gone.

Only the stone castle remained, its gray stones warming under the midday sun.

And where a cascade of glass and debris should have destroyed a city, a massive, opaque wall glittered.

A wall of glass, its upper lip curved as if it indeed had been a cresting wave.

The glass castle was gone. The king was dead. And Dorian—

Aelin scrambled up, her arms buckling under her. There, not three feet away, was Dorian, sprawled on the grass, eyes closed.

But his chest was rising and falling.

Beside him, as if some benevolent god had indeed been looking after them, lay Chaol.

His face was bloody, but he breathed. No other wounds that she could detect.

She began shaking. She wondered if he had noticed when she’d slipped the real Eye of Elena into his pocket as she’d fled the throne room.

The scent of pine and snow hit her, and she realized how they had survived the fall.

Aelin got to her feet, swaying.

The sloping hill down to the city had been demolished, its trees and lampposts and greenery shredded by the glass.

She didn’t want to know about the people who had been on the grounds—or in the castle.

She forced herself to walk.

Toward the wall. Toward the panicked city beyond. Toward the new world that beckoned.

Two scents converged, then a third. A strange, wild scent that belonged to everything and nothing.

But Aelin did not look at Aedion, or Rowan, or Lysandra as she descended the hill to the city.

Every step was an effort, every breath a trial to pull herself back from the brink, to hold on to the here and now, and what had to be done.

Aelin approached the towering glass wall that now separated the castle from the city, that separated death from life.

She punched a battering ram of blue flame through it.

More yelling arose as the flame ate away at the glass, forming an archway.

The people beyond, crying and holding one another or gripping their heads or covering their mouths, went quiet as she strode through the door she’d made.

The gallows still stood just beyond the wall. It was the only raised surface that she could see.

Better than nothing.

Aelin ascended the butchering block, her court falling into rank behind her. Rowan was limping, but she didn’t allow herself to examine him, to even ask if he was all right. Not yet.

Aelin kept her shoulders back, her face grave and unyielding as she stopped at the edge of the platform.

“Your king is dead,” she said. The crowd stirred. “Your prince lives.” “All hail Dorian Havilliard,” someone shouted down the street. No

one else echoed it.

“My name is Aelin Ashryver Galathynius,” she said. “And I am the Queen of Terrasen.”

The crowd murmured; some onlookers stepped away from the platform.

“Your prince is in mourning. Until he is ready, this city is mine.” Absolute silence.

“If you loot, if you riot, if you cause one lick of trouble,” she said, looking a few in the eye, “I will find you, and I will burn you to ash.” She lifted a hand, and flames danced at her fingertips. “If you revolt against your new king, if you try to take his castle, then this wall”—she gestured with her burning hand—“will turn to molten glass and flood your streets, your homes, your throats.”

Aelin lifted her chin, her mouth cutting a hard, unforgiving line as she surveyed the crowd filling the streets, people craning to see her, see the

Fae ears and elongated canines, see the flames flickering around her fingers.

“I killed your king. His empire is over. Your slaves are now free people. If I catch you holding on to your slaves, if I hear of any household keeping them captive, you are dead. If I hear of you whipping a slave, or trying to sell one, you are dead. So I suggest that you tell your friends, and families, and neighbors. I suggest that you act like reasonable, intelligent people. And I suggest that you stay on your best behavior until your king is ready to greet you, at which time I swear on my crown that I will yield control of this city to him. If anyone has a problem with it, you can take it up with my court.” She motioned behind her. Rowan, Aedion, and Lysandra—bloodied, battered, filthy—grinned like hellions. “Or,” Aelin said, the flames winking out on her hand, “you can take it up with me.”

Not a word. She wondered whether they were breathing.

But Aelin didn’t care as she strode off the platform, back through the gate she’d made, and all the way up the barren hillside to the stone castle.

She was barely inside the oak doors before she collapsed to her knees and wept.

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