Home > A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)(4)

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)(4)
Author: Sarah J. Maas

“We will be,” Tamlin promised. “But we’ve already agreed to certain conditions. Sacrifices. If we break apart now … even with Hybern as our ally, we have to present a solid front. Together.”

He still trusted her. Still thought that Ianthe had merely made a bad call. Had no idea what lurked beneath the beauty, the clothes, and the pious incantations.

But then again, that same blindness kept him from realizing what prowled beneath my skin as well. Ianthe bowed her head again. “I will endeavor to be worthy of my friends.”

Lucien seemed to be trying very, very hard not to roll his eyes.

But Tamlin said, “We’ll all try.”

That was his new favorite word: try.

I only swallowed, making sure he heard it, and nodded slowly, keeping my eyes on Ianthe. “Don’t ever do anything like that again.”

A fool’s command—one she’d expected me to make, from the quickness with which she nodded. Lucien leaned back in his seat, refusing to say anything else.

“Lucien is right, though,” I blurted, the portrait of concern. “What of the people in this court during this conflict?” I frowned at Tamlin. “They were brutalized by Amarantha—I’m not sure how well they will endure living beside Hybern. They have suffered enough.”

Tamlin’s jaw tightened. “Hybern has promised that our people shall remain untouched and undisturbed.” Our people. I nearly scowled—even as I nodded again in understanding. “It was a part of our … bargain.” When he’d sold out all of Prythian, sold out everything decent and good in himself, to retrieve me. “Our people will be safe when Hybern arrives. Though I’ve sent out word that families should … relocate to the eastern part of the territory. For the time being.”

Good. At least he’d considered those potential casualties—at least he cared that much about his people, understood what sorts of sick games Hybern liked to play and that he might swear one thing but mean another. If he was already moving those most at risk during this conflict out of the way … It made my work here all the easier. And east—a bit of information I tucked away. If east was safe, then the west … Hybern would indeed be coming from that direction. Arriving there.

Tamlin blew out a breath. “That brings me to the other reason behind this meeting.”

I braced myself, schooling my face into bland curiosity, as he declared, “The first delegation from Hybern arrives tomorrow.” Lucien’s golden skin paled. Tamlin added, “Jurian will be here by noon.”






I’d barely heard a whisper of Jurian these past weeks—hadn’t seen the resurrected human commander since that night in Hybern.

Jurian had been reborn through the Cauldron using the hideous remnants of him that Amarantha had hoarded as trophies for five hundred years, his soul trapped and aware within his own magically preserved eye. He was mad—had gone mad long before the King of Hybern had resurrected him to lead the human queens down a path of ignorant submission.

Tamlin and Lucien had to know. Had to have seen that gleam in Jurian’s eyes.

But … they also did not seem to entirely mind that the King of Hybern possessed the Cauldron—that it was capable of cleaving this world apart. Starting with the wall. The only thing standing between the gathering, lethal Fae armies and the vulnerable human lands below.

No, that threat certainly didn’t seem to keep Lucien or Tamlin awake at night. Or from inviting these monsters into their home.

Tamlin had promised upon my return that I was to be included in the planning, in every meeting. And he was true to his word when he explained that Jurian would arrive with two other commanders from Hybern, and I would be present for it. They indeed wished to survey the wall, to test for the perfect spot to rend it once the Cauldron had recovered its strength.

Turning my sisters into Fae, apparently, had drained it.

My smugness at the fact was short-lived.

My first task: learn where they planned to strike, and how long the Cauldron required to return to its full capacity. And then smuggle that information to Rhysand and the others.

I took extra care dressing the next day, after sleeping fitfully thanks to a dinner with a guilt-ridden Ianthe, who went to excessive lengths to kiss my ass and Lucien’s. The priestess apparently wished to wait until the Hybern commanders were settled before making her appearance. She’d cooed about wanting to ensure they had the chance to get to know us before she intruded, but one look at Lucien told me that he and I, for once, agreed: she had likely planned some sort of grand entrance.

It made little difference to me—to my plans.

Plans that I sent down the mating bond the next morning, words and images tumbling along a night-filled corridor.

I did not dare risk using the bond too often. I had communicated with Rhysand only once since I’d arrived. Just once, in the hours after I’d walked into my old bedroom and spied the thorns that had conquered it.

It had been like shouting across a great distance, like speaking underwater. I am safe and well, I’d fired down the bond. I’ll tell you what I know soon. I’d waited, letting the words travel into the dark. Then I’d asked, Are they alive? Hurt?

I didn’t remember the bond between us being so hard to hear, even when I’d dwelled on this estate and he’d used it to see if I was still breathing, to make sure my despair hadn’t swallowed me whole.

But Rhysand’s response had come a minute later. I love you. They are alive. They are healing.

That was it. As if it was all that he could manage.

I had drifted back to my new chambers, locked the door, and enveloped the entire place in a wall of hard air to keep any scent from my silent tears escaping as I curled up in a corner of the bathing room.

I had once sat in such a position, watching the stars during the long, bleak hours of the night. Now I took in the cloudless blue sky beyond the open window, listened to the birds singing to one another, and wanted to roar.

I had not dared to ask for more details about Cassian and Azriel—or my sisters. In terror of knowing just how bad it had been—and what I’d do if their healing turned grim. What I’d bring down upon these people.

Healing. Alive and healing. I reminded myself of that every day.

Even when I still heard their screams, smelled their blood.

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