Home > Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)(11)

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)(11)
Author: Sarah J. Maas

She crossed her arms. She’d managed to convince him to give her a tour under the pretense of extreme boredom—when, in fact, she’d used every moment to plot a dozen escape routes from her room. The castle was old, and most of its halls and stairwells went nowhere; escaping would require some thought. But with the competition beginning tomorrow, what else did she have to do? And what better way to prepare for a potential disaster?

“I don’t understand why you refuse to enter the glass addition,” he went on. “There’s no difference between the interiors—you wouldn’t even know that you were inside it unless someone told you or you looked out the window.”

“Only an idiot would walk in a house made of glass.”

“It’s as sturdy as steel and stone.”

“Yes, until someone just a bit too heavy enters and it comes crashing down.”

“That’s impossible.”

The thought of standing on floors of glass made her queasy. “Is there no menagerie or library that we could see?” They passed by a set of closed doors. The sounds of lilting speech reached them, along with the gentle strumming of a harp. “What’s in there?”

“The queen’s court.” He grabbed her arm and pulled her down the hall.

“Queen Georgina?” Didn’t he have any idea what information he was giving away? Perhaps he honestly thought she wasn’t a threat. She hid her scowl.

“Yes, Queen Georgina Havilliard.”

“Is the young prince at home?”

“Hollin? He’s at school.”

“And is he as handsome as his older brother?” Celaena smirked as Chaol tensed.

It was well known that the ten-year-old prince was rotten and spoiled, inside and out, and she remembered the scandal that had erupted a few months before her capture. Hollin Havilliard, upon finding his porridge burnt, had beaten one of his servants so badly that there was no possibility of it being concealed. The woman’s family had been paid off, and the young prince shipped to school in the mountains. Of course everyone knew. Queen Georgina had refused to hold court for a month.

“Hollin will grow into his lineage,” Chaol grumbled. There was a bounce to her step as Celaena walked on, the court fading away behind them. They were silent for a few minutes before an explosion sounded nearby, then another.

“What is that awful noise?” Celaena said. The captain led her through a set of glass doors, and he pointed up as they entered into a garden.

“The clock tower,” he said, his bronze eyes shining with amusement, as the clock finished its war cry. She’d never heard bells like that.

From the garden sprouted a tower made of inky black stone. Two gargoyles, wings spread for flight, perched on each of the four clock faces, soundlessly roaring at those beneath. “What a horrible thing,” she whispered. The numbers were like war paint on the white face of the clock, the hands like swords as they slashed across the pearly surface.

“As a child, I wouldn’t go near it,” Chaol admitted.

“You’d see something like this before the Gates of Wyrd—not in a garden. How old is it?”

“The king had it built around Dorian’s birth.”

“This king?” Chaol nodded. “Why would he build such a wretched thing?”

“Come on,” he said, turning as he ignored her question. “Let’s go.”

Celaena examined the clock for a second more. The thick, clawed finger of a gargoyle pointed at her. She could have sworn that its jaws had widened. As she made to follow Chaol, she noticed a tile on the paved pathway. “What’s this?”

He stopped. “What’s what?”

She pointed at the mark engraved on the slate. It was a circle with a vertical line through the middle that extended beyond the circumference. Both ends of the line were hooked, one directing downward, the other up. “What is this mark on the path here?”

He walked around until he stood beside her. “I have no idea.”

Celaena examined the gargoyle again. “He’s pointing at it. What does the symbol mean?”

“It means you’re wasting my time,” he said. “It’s probably some sort of decorative sundial.”

“Are there other marks?”

“If you looked, I’m sure you’d find them.” She allowed herself to be dragged from the garden, away from the shadow of the clock tower and into the marble halls of the castle. Try as she might, and walk as far as they did, she couldn’t shake the feeling that those bulging eyes were still upon her.

They continued past the kitchen quarters, which were a mess of shouting, clouds of flour, and surging fires. Once beyond, they entered a long hallway, empty and silent save for their footsteps. Celaena suddenly halted. “What,” she breathed, “is that?” She pointed at the twenty-foot oak doors, her eyes widening at the dragons that grew out of either side of the stone wall. Four-legged dragons—not vicious, bipedal wyverns like those on the royal seal.

“The library.” The two words were like a shot of lightning.

“The . . .” She looked at the claw-shaped iron handles. “Can we—may we go in?”

The Captain of the Guard opened the doors reluctantly, the strong muscles of his back shifting as he pushed hard against the worn oak. Compared to the sunlit hallway, the interior that stretched beyond them seemed formidably dark, but as she stepped inside, candelabras came into view, along with black-and-white marble floors, large mahogany tables with red velvet chairs, a slumbering fire, mezzanines, bridges, ladders, railings, and then books—books and books and books.

She’d entered a city made entirely of leather and paper. Celaena put a hand against her heart. Escape routes be damned. “I’ve never seen—how many volumes are there?”

Chaol shrugged. “The last time anyone bothered to count, it was a million. But that was two hundred years ago. I’d say maybe more than that, especially given the legends that a second library lies deep beneath, in catacombs and tunnels.”

“Over a million? A million books?” Her heart leapt and danced, and she cracked a smile. “I’d die before I even got through half of that!”

“You like to read?”

She raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you?” Not waiting for an answer, she moved farther into the library, the train of her gown sweeping across the floor. She neared a shelf and looked at the titles. She recognized none of them.

Grinning, she whirled and moved through the main floor, running a hand across the dusty books. “I didn’t know assassins liked to read,” Chaol called. If she were to die now, it would be in complete bliss. “You said you were from Terrasen; did you ever visit the Great Library of Orynth? They say it’s twice the size of this—and that it used to hold all the knowledge of the world.”

She turned from the stack she was currently studying. “Yes,” she admitted. “When I was very young. Though they wouldn’t let me explore—the Master Scholars were too afraid I’d ruin some valuable manuscript.” She hadn’t returned to the Great Library since—and wondered how many of those invaluable works had been ordered destroyed by the King of Adarlan when he outlawed magic. From the way Chaol said “used to” with a tinge of sadness, she assumed much had been lost. Though part of her savored the hope that those Master Scholars had smuggled many of the priceless books to safety—that when the royal family had been slaughtered and the King of Adarlan invaded, those stuffy old men had had the good sense to start hiding two thousand years’ worth of ideas and learning.

A dead, empty space opened inside her. Needing to change the subject, she asked, “Why are none of your folk here?”

“Guards are of no use in a library.” Oh, how wrong he was! Libraries were full of ideas—perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.

She said, “I was referring to your noble companions.”

He leaned against a table, a hand still on his sword. At least one of them remembered that they were alone together in the library. “Reading is a bit out of fashion, I’m afraid.”

“Yes, well—more for me to read, then.”

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