Chapter no 83

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, 4)

Aelin slept for three days.

Three days, while Rowan sat by her bed, healing his leg as best he could while the abyss of his power refilled.

Aedion assumed control of the castle, imprisoning any surviving guards. Most, Rowan had been viciously pleased to learn, had been killed in the storm of glass the prince had called down. Chaol had survived, by some miracle—probably the Eye of Elena, which they’d found tucked into his pocket. It was an easy guess who had put it there. Though Rowan honestly wondered if, when the captain woke up, he might wish he hadn’t made it after all. He’d encountered enough soldiers who felt that way.

After Aelin had so spectacularly leashed the people of Rifthold, they found Lorcan waiting by the doors to the stone castle. The queen hadn’t even noticed him as she sank to her knees and cried and cried, until Rowan scooped her into his arms and, limping slightly, carried her through the frenzied halls, servants dodging them as Aedion led the way to her old rooms.

It was the only place to go. Better to establish themselves in their enemy’s former stronghold than retreat to the warehouse apartment.

A servant named Philippa was asked to look after the prince, who had been unconscious the last time Rowan had seen him—when he plummeted to earth and Rowan’s wind stopped his fall.

He didn’t know what had happened in the castle. Through her weeping, Aelin hadn’t said anything.

She had been unconscious by the time Rowan reached her lavish suite of rooms, not even stirring as he kicked open the locked door. His leg had burned in pain, the rough healing he’d done barely holding the wound together, but he didn’t care. He’d barely set Aelin on the bed before Lorcan’s scent hit him again, and he whirled, snarling.

But there was already someone in Lorcan’s face, blocking the warrior’s path into the queen’s bedchamber. Lysandra.

“May I help you?” the courtesan had said sweetly. Her dress was in shreds, and blood both black and red coated most of her, but she held her

head high and her back straight. She’d made it as far as the upper levels of the stone castle before the glass one above it had exploded. And showed no plans of leaving anytime soon.

Rowan had thrown a shield of hard air around Aelin’s room as Lorcan stared down at Lysandra, his blood-splattered face impassive. “Out of my way, shifter.”

Lysandra had held up a slender hand—and Lorcan paused. The shape-shifter pressed her other hand against her stomach, her face blanching. But then she smiled and said, “You forgot to say ‘please.’”

Lorcan’s dark brows flattened. “I don’t have time for this.” He made to step around her, shove her aside.

Lysandra vomited black blood all over him.

Rowan didn’t know whether to laugh or cringe as Lysandra, panting, gaped at Lorcan, and at the blood on his neck and chest. Slowly, too slowly, Lorcan looked down at himself.

She pressed a hand over her mouth. “I am—so sorry—”

Lorcan didn’t even step out of the way as Lysandra vomited on him again, black blood and bits of gore now on the warrior and on the marble floor.

Lorcan’s dark eyes flickered.

Rowan decided to do them both a favor and joined them in the antechamber, shutting the queen’s bedroom door behind him as he stepped around the puddle of blood, bile, and gore.

Lysandra gagged again, and wisely darted to what looked to be a bathing room off the foyer.

All of the men and demons she’d wasted, it seemed, did not sit well in her human stomach. The sounds of her purging leaked out from beneath the bathing room door.

“You deserved that,” Rowan said.

Lorcan didn’t so much as blink. “That’s the thanks I get?”

Rowan leaned against the wall, crossing his arms and keeping the weight off his now-healing leg. “You knew we’d try to use those tunnels,” Rowan said, “and yet you lied about the Wyrdhounds being dead. I should rip out your gods-damned throat.”

“Go ahead. Try.”

Rowan remained against the door, calculating every move of his former commander. A fight right here, right now would be too destructive, and too dangerous with his queen unconscious in the room behind him. “I wouldn’t have given a shit about it if it had just been me.

But when you let me walk into that trap, you endangered my queen’s life


“Looks like she did just fine—”

“—and the life of a brother in my court.” Lorcan’s mouth tightened—barely.

“That’s why you came to help, isn’t it?” Rowan said. “You saw Aedion when we left the apartment.”

“I did not know Gavriel’s son would be in that tunnel with you. Until it was too late.”

Of course, Lorcan would never have warned them about the trap after learning Aedion would be there. Not in a thousand years would Lorcan ever admit to a mistake.

“I wasn’t aware that you even cared.”

“Gavriel is still my brother,” Lorcan said, his eyes flashing. “I would have faced him with dishonor if I had let his son die.”

Only for honor, for the blood bond between them—not for saving this continent. The same twisted bond was leading him now to destroy the keys before Maeve could acquire them. Rowan had no doubt that Lorcan meant to do it, even if Maeve killed him for it later.

“What are you doing here, Lorcan? Didn’t you get what you wanted?” A fair question—and a warning. The male was now inside his queen’s suite, closer than most people in her court would ever get. Rowan began a silent countdown in his head. Thirty seconds seemed generous. Then

he would throw Lorcan out on his ass.

“It’s not over,” the warrior said. “Not even close.”

Rowan lifted his brows. “Idle threats?” But Lorcan had only shrugged and walked out, covered in Lysandra’s vomit, and did not look back before disappearing down the hall.

That had been three days ago. Rowan hadn’t seen or scented Lorcan since. Lysandra, mercifully, had stopped hurling her guts up—or someone else’s guts, he supposed. The shape-shifter had claimed a room across the hall, between the two chambers in which the Crown Prince and Chaol still slept.

After what Aelin and the Crown Prince had done, the magic they’d wielded together and alone, three days of sleep was hardly surprising.

Yet it drove Rowan out of his mind.

There were so many things he needed to say to her—though perhaps he would just ask how the hell she’d gotten stabbed in the side. She’d healed herself, and he wouldn’t have even known were it not for the rips in the ribs, back, and arms of that black assassin’s suit.

When the healer had inspected the sleeping queen, she’d found that Aelin had healed herself too quickly, too desperately—and had sealed her flesh around some shards of glass in her back. Watching as the healer stripped her naked, then began carefully opening the dozens of little wounds to dig out the glass almost made him tear down the walls.

Aelin slept through it, which he supposed was a mercy, given how deep the healer had to dig to get the glass out.

She’s lucky it didn’t hit anything permanent, the healer had said.

Once every shard was gone, Rowan had used his strained magic to slowly—so slowly, damn him—heal the wounds again. It left the tattoo on her back in ribbons.

He’d have to fill it in when she recovered. And teach her more about battlefield healing.

If she ever woke up.

Sitting in a chair beside her bed, Rowan toed off his boots and rubbed at the faint, lingering soreness in his leg. Aedion had just finished giving a report about the current status of the castle. Three days later, the general still hadn’t spoken about what had happened—that he’d been willing to lay down his life to protect Rowan from the Valg foot soldiers, or that the King of Adarlan was dead. As far as the former, Rowan had thanked him for that in the only way he knew how: offering Aedion one of his own daggers, forged by the greatest of Doranelle’s blacksmiths. Aedion had initially refused, insisting he needed no thanks, but had worn the blade at his side ever since.

But in regard to the latter … Rowan had asked, just once, what the general felt about the king being dead. Aedion had merely said he wished the bastard had suffered longer, but dead was dead, so it was fine by him. Rowan wondered if he truly meant it, but Aedion would tell him when he was good and ready. Not all wounds could be healed with magic. Rowan knew that too well. But they did heal. Eventually.

And the wounds on this castle, on the city—those would heal, too. He’d stood on battlefields after the killing had stopped, the earth still wet with blood, and lived to see the scars slowly heal, decade after decade, on the land, the people. So, too, would Rifthold heal.

Even if Aedion’s latest report on the castle was grim. Most of the staff had survived, along with a few courtiers, but it seemed that a good number of those who had remained at court—courtiers Aedion had known to be worthless, scheming devils—hadn’t made it. As if the prince had wiped clean the stain from his castle.

Rowan shuddered at the thought, gazing at the doors Aedion had vacated. The Crown Prince had such tremendous power. Rowan had never seen its like. He’d need to find a way to train it—hone it—or risk it destroying him.

And Aelin—that brilliant, insane fool—had taken a tremendous risk in weaving her power with his. The prince had raw magic that could be shaped into anything. Aelin could have burnt herself out in a second.

Rowan turned his head and glared at her. And found Aelin glaring back.



“I save the world,” Aelin said, her voice like gravel, “and yet I wake up to you being pissy.”

“It was a group effort,” Rowan said from a chair nearby. “And I’m pissy for about twenty different reasons, most of them having to do with you making some of the most reckless decisions I’ve ever—”

“Dorian,” she blurted. “Is Dorian—”

“Fine. Asleep. He’s been out as long as you.” “Chaol—”

“Asleep. Recovering. But alive.”

A weight eased from her shoulders. And then … she looked at the Fae Prince and understood that he was unharmed, that she was in her old room, that they weren’t in chains or collars, and that the king … What the king had said before he died …

“Fireheart,” Rowan murmured, starting from his chair, but she shook her head. The movement made her skull throb.

She took a steadying breath, wiping at her eyes. Gods, her arm ached, her back ached, her side ached … “No more tears,” she said. “No more weeping.” She lowered her hands to the blankets. “Tell me— everything.”

So he did. About the hellfire, and the Wyrdhounds, and Lorcan. And then the past three days, of organizing and healing and Lysandra scaring the living shit out of everyone by shifting into a ghost leopard anytime one of Dorian’s courtiers stepped out of line.

When he’d finished, Rowan said, “If you can’t talk about it, you don’t


“I need to talk about it.” To him—if only to him. The words tumbled out, and she did not cry as she explained what the king had said, what he’d claimed. What Dorian had still done. Rowan’s face remained drawn, thoughtful, throughout. At last, she said, “Three days?”

Rowan nodded gravely. “Distracting Aedion with running the castle is the only way I’ve kept him from chewing on the furniture.”

She met those pine-green eyes, and he opened his mouth again, but she made a small noise. “Before we say anything else …” She glanced at the door. “I need you to help me get to the bathing room. Or else I’m going to wet myself.”

Rowan burst out laughing.

She glared at him again as she sat up, the movement agonizing, exhausting. She was naked save for the clean undergarments someone had stuffed her into, but she supposed she was decent enough. He’d seen every part of her, anyway.

Rowan was still chuckling as he helped her up, letting her lean against him as her legs—useless, wobbling like a newborn fawn—tried to work. It took her so long to go three steps that she didn’t object when he swept her up and carried her to the bathing room. She growled when he tried to set her on the toilet itself, and he left with his hands upraised, his eyes dancing as if to say Can you blame me for tryingYou might very well fall into it instead.

He laughed once more at the profanities in her eyes, and when she was done, she managed to stand and walk the three steps to the door before he hefted her in his arms again. No limp, she realized—his leg, mercifully, was mostly healed.

Her arms draped around him, she pressed her face into his neck as he carried her toward the bed, and breathed in his scent. When he made to set her down, she held on to him, a silent request.

So Rowan sat on the bed, holding her in his lap as he stretched out his legs and settled into the rows of pillows. For a moment, they said nothing.

Then, “So this was your room. And that was the secret passage.”

A lifetime ago, a whole other person ago. “You don’t sound impressed.”

“After all your stories, it just seems so … ordinary.” “Most people would hardly call this castle ordinary.”

A huff of laughter warmed her hair. She grazed her nose against the bare skin of his neck.

“I thought you were dying,” he said roughly.

She held him tighter, even if it made her back ache. “I was.” “Please don’t ever do that again.”

It was her turn to puff out a laugh. “Next time, I’ll just ask Dorian not to stab me.”

But Rowan pulled back, scanning her face. “I felt it—I felt every second of it. I went out of my mind.”

She brushed a finger along his cheek. “I thought something had gone wrong for you, too—I thought you might be dead, or hurt. And it killed me not to be able to go to you.”

“Next time we need to save the world, we do it together.” She smiled faintly. “Deal.”

He shifted his arm so he could brush her hair back. His fingers lingered along her jaw. “You make me want to live, too, Aelin Galathynius,” he said. “Not exist—but live.” He cupped her cheek, and took a steadying breath—as if he’d thought about every word these past three days, over and over again. “I spent centuries wandering the world, from empires to kingdoms to wastelands, never settling, never stopping

—not for one moment. I was always looking toward the horizon, always wondering what waited across the next ocean, over the next mountain. But I think … I think that whole time, all those centuries, I was just looking for you.”

He brushed away a tear that escaped her then, and Aelin gazed at the Fae Prince who held her—at her friend, who had traveled through darkness and despair and ice and fire with her.

She didn’t know which one of them moved first, but then Rowan’s mouth was on hers, and Aelin gripped his shirt, pulling him closer, claiming him as he claimed her.

His arms wrapped tighter around her, but gently—so careful of the wounds that ached. He brushed his tongue against hers, and she opened her mouth to him. Each movement of their lips was a whisper of what was to come once they were both healed, and a promise.

The kiss was slow—thorough. As if they had all the time in the world. As if they were the only ones in it.



Realizing he’d forgotten to tell Rowan about the letter he’d received from the Bane, Aedion Ashryver walked into Aelin’s suite of rooms in time to see that Aelin was awake—finally awake, and lifting her face to Rowan’s. They were sitting on the bed, Aelin in Rowan’s lap, the Fae warrior’s arms locked around her as he looked at her the way she deserved to be looked at. And when they kissed, deeply, without hesitation—

Rowan didn’t so much as glance Aedion’s way before a wind snapped through the suite, slamming the bedroom door in Aedion’s face.

Point taken.

A strange, ever-changing female scent hit him, and Aedion found Lysandra leaning against the hallway door. Tears gleamed in her eyes even as she smiled.

She gazed at the closed bedroom door, as if she could still see the prince and queen inside. “That,” she said, more to herself than to him. “That is what I am going to find one day.”

“A gorgeous Fae warrior?” Aedion said, shifting a bit.

Lysandra chuckled, wiping away her tears, and gave him a knowing look before walking away.



Apparently, Dorian’s golden ring was gone—and Aelin knew exactly who had been responsible for the momentary blackness when she’d hit the ground as the castle collapsed, who had bestowed the unconsciousness courtesy of a blow to the back of her head.

She didn’t know why Lorcan hadn’t killed her, but she didn’t particularly care—not when he was long gone. She supposed he’d never promised not to steal the ring back.

Though he’d also never made them verify that the Amulet of Orynth wasn’t a fake. Too bad she wouldn’t be there to see his face when he realized it.

The thought was enough to make Aelin smile the next day, despite the door she stood before—despite who waited behind it.

Rowan lingered at the end of the hallway, guarding the only way in or out. He gave her a nod, and even from the distance, she read the words in his eyes. I’ll be right here. One shout, and I’ll be at your side.

She rolled her eyes at him. Overbearing, territorial Fae beast.

She’d lost track of how long they’d kissed for, how long she’d lost herself in him. But then she’d taken his hand and laid it on her breast, and he’d growled in a way that made her toes curl and her back arch … and then wince at the remnant of pain flickering in her body.

He had pulled back at that wince, and when she’d tried to convince him to keep going, he’d told her that he had no interest in bedding an invalid, and since they’d already waited this long, she could cool her heels and wait some more. Until she was able to keep up with him, he’d added with a wicked grin.

Aelin shoved away the thought with another glare in Rowan’s direction, loosed a steadying breath, and pushed down on the handle.

He was standing by the window overlooking the wrecked gardens where servants were struggling to repair the catastrophic damage he’d caused.

“Hello, Dorian,” she said.

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