Home > A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)(7)

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)(7)
Author: Sarah J. Maas


I made a good show of furrowing my brow in confusion. “Nothing.” I offered a sweet smile to the two royals. “Their Highnesses must be tired after such a long journey.”

And for good measure, I lunged for their own minds, finding a wall of white bone.

They flinched as I dragged black talons down their mental shields, gouging deep.

The warning blow cost me, a low, pulsing headache forming around my temples. But I merely dug back into my food, ignoring Jurian’s wink.

No one spoke for the rest of the meal.

 

 

CHAPTER

3

 

The spring woods fell silent as we rode between the budding trees, birds and small furred beasts having darted for cover long before we passed.

Not from me, or Lucien, or the three sentries trailing a respectful distance behind. But from Jurian and the two Hybern commanders who rode in the center of our party. As if they were as awful as the Bogge, as the naga.

We reached the wall without incident or Jurian trying to bait us into distraction. I’d been awake most of the night, casting my awareness through the manor, hunting for any sign that Dagdan and Brannagh were working their daemati influence on anyone else. Mercifully, the curse-breaking ability I’d inherited from Helion Spell-Cleaver, High Lord of the Day Court, had detected no tangles, no spells, save for the wards around the house itself, preventing anyone from winnowing in or out.

Tamlin had been tense at breakfast, but had not asked me to remain behind. I’d even gone so far as to test him by asking what was wrong—to which he’d only replied that he had a headache. Lucien had just patted him on the shoulder and promised to look after me. I’d nearly laughed at the words.

But laughter was now far from my lips as the wall pulsed and throbbed, a heavy, hideous presence that loomed from half a mile away. Up close, though … Even our horses were skittish, tossing their heads and stomping their hooves on the mossy earth as we tied them to the low-hanging branches of blooming dogwoods.

“The gap in the wall is right up here,” Lucien was saying, sounding about as thrilled as me to be in such company. Stomping over the fallen pink blossoms, Dagdan and Brannagh slid into step beside him, Jurian slithering off to survey the terrain, the sentries remaining with our mounts.

I followed Lucien and the royals, keeping a casual distance behind. I knew my elegant, fine clothes weren’t fooling the prince and princess into forgetting that a fellow daemati now walked at their backs. But I’d still carefully selected the embroidered sapphire jacket and brown pants—adorned only with the jeweled knife and belt that Lucien had once gifted me. A lifetime ago.

“Who cleaved the wall here?” Brannagh asked, surveying the hole that we could not see—no, the wall itself was utterly invisible—but rather felt, as if the air had been sucked from one spot.

“We don’t know,” Lucien replied, the dappled sunlight glinting along the gold thread adorning his fawn-brown jacket as he crossed his arms. “Some of the holes just appeared over the centuries. This one is barely wide enough for one person to get through.”

An exchanged glance between the twins. I came up behind them, studying the gap, the wall around it that made every instinct recoil at its … wrongness. “This is where I came through—that first time.”

Lucien nodded, and the other two lifted their brows. But I took a step closer to Lucien, my arm nearly brushing his, letting him be a barrier between us. They’d been more careful at breakfast this morning about pushing against my mental shields. Yet now, letting them think I was physically cowed by them … Brannagh studied how closely I stood to Lucien; how he shifted slightly to shield me, too.

A little, cold smile curled her lips. “How many holes are in the wall?”

“We’ve counted three along our entire border,” Lucien said tightly. “Plus one off the coast—about a mile away.”

I didn’t let my cool mask falter as he offered up the information.

But Brannagh shook her head, dark hair devouring the sunlight. “The sea entrances are of no use. We need to break it on the land.”

“The continent surely has spots, too.”

“Their queens have an even weaker grasp on their people than you do,” Dagdan said. I plucked up that gem of information, studied it.

“We’ll leave you to explore it, then,” I said, waving toward the hole. “When you’re done, we’ll ride to the next.”

“It’s two days from here,” Lucien countered.

“Then we’ll plan a trip for that excursion,” I said simply. Before Lucien could object, I asked, “And the third hole?”

Lucien tapped a foot against the mossy ground, but said, “Two days past that.”

I turned to the royals, arching a brow. “Can both of you winnow?”

Brannagh flushed, straightening. But it was Dagdan who admitted, “I can.” He must have carried both Brannagh and Jurian when they arrived. He added, “Only a few miles if I bear others.”

I merely nodded and headed toward a tangle of stooping dogwoods, Lucien following close behind. When there was nothing but ruffling pink blossoms and trickling sunlight through the thatch of branches, when the royals had busied themselves with the wall, out of sight and sound, I took up a perch on a smooth, bald rock.

Lucien sat against a nearby tree, folding one booted ankle over another. “Whatever you’re planning, it’ll land us knee-deep in shit.”

“I’m not planning anything.” I plucked up a fallen pink blossom and twirled it between my thumb and forefinger.

That golden eye narrowed, clicking softly.

“What do you even see with that thing?”

He didn’t answer.

I chucked the blossom onto the soft moss between us. “Don’t trust me? After all we’ve been through?”

He frowned at the discarded blossom, but still said nothing.

I busied myself by sorting through my pack until I found the canteen of water. “If you’d been alive for the War,” I asked him, taking a swig, “would you have fought on their side? Or fought for the humans?”

“I would have been a part of the human-Fae alliance.”

“Even if your father wasn’t?”

“Especially if my father wasn’t.”

But Beron had been part of that alliance, if I correctly recalled my lessons with Rhys all those months ago.

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