Home > Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)(12)

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)(12)
Author: Sarah J. Maas

“Read? These belong to the king.”

“It’s a library, isn’t it?”

“It’s the king’s property, and you aren’t of noble blood. You need permission from either him or the prince.”

“I highly doubt either would notice the loss of a few books.”

Chaol sighed. “It’s late. I’m hungry.”

“So?” she said. He growled and practically dragged her from the library.

After a solitary supper, over which she contemplated all of her planned escape routes and how she might make more weapons for herself, Celaena paced through her rooms. Where were the other competitors being kept? Did they have access to books, if they wanted?

Celaena slumped into a chair. She was tired, but the sun had barely set. Instead of reading, she could perhaps use the pianoforte, but . . . well, it had been a while, and she wasn’t sure she could endure the sound of her own stumbling, clumsy playing. She traced a finger over a splotch of fuchsia silk on her dress. All those books, with no one to read them.

An idea flashed, and she jumped to her feet, only to sit at the desk and grab a piece of parchment. If Captain Westfall insisted on protocol, then she’d give it to him in abundance. She dipped the glass pen in a pot of ink and held it over the paper.

How odd it felt to hold a pen! She traced the letters in the air. It was impossible that she’d forgotten how to write. Her fingers moved awkwardly as the pen touched the paper, but she carefully wrote her name, then the alphabet, three times. The letters were uneven, but she could do it. She pulled out another piece of paper and began to write.

Your Highness—

It has come to my attention that your library isn’t a library, but rather a personal collection for only you and your esteemed father to enjoy. As many of your million books seem to be present and underused, I must beg you to grant me permission to borrow a few so that they might receive the attention they deserve. Since I am deprived of company and entertainment, this act of kindness is the least someone of your importance could deign to bestow upon a lowly, miserable wretch such as I.

Yours most truly,

Celaena Sardothien

Celaena beamed at her note and handed it to the nicest-looking servant she could find, with specific instructions to give it immediately to the Crown Prince. When the woman returned half an hour later with a stack of books piled in her arms, Celaena laughed as she swiped the note that crowned the column of leather.

My Most True Assassin,

Enclosed are seven books from my personal library that I have recently read and enjoyed immensely. You are, of course, free to read as many of the books in the castle library as you wish, but I command you to read these first so that we might discuss them. I promise they are not dull, for I am not one inclined to sit through pages of nonsense and bloated speech, though perhaps you enjoy works and authors who think very highly of themselves.

Most affectionately,

Dorian Havilliard

Celaena laughed again and took the books from the woman’s arms, thanking her for her trouble. She walked into her bedroom, shutting the door with a backward kick, and dropped onto the bed, scattering the books across the crimson surface. She didn’t recognize any of the titles, though one author was familiar. Choosing the book that seemed the most interesting, Celaena flipped onto her back and began to read.

Celaena awoke the next morning to the wretched booming of the clock tower. Half-asleep, she counted the chimes. Noon. She sat up. Where was Chaol? And, more importantly, what about the competition? Wasn’t it supposed to have started today?

She leapt from bed and stalked through her chambers, half expecting to find him sitting in a chair, a hand upon his sword. He wasn’t there. She popped her head into the hallway, but the four guards only reached for their weapons. She paced onto the balcony, the crossbows of five guards beneath clicking into position, and put her hands on her hips as she surveyed the autumn day.

The trees in the garden were gold and brown, half of the leaves already dead on the earth. Yet the day was so warm it could have passed for summer. Celaena took a seat on the rail, and waved at the guards with their crossbows aimed at her. Out across Rifthold, she could make out the sails of ships, and the wagons and people streaming through the streets. The green roofs of the city glowed emerald in the sun.

She looked again at the five guards beneath the balcony. They stared right back at her, and when they slowly lowered their crossbows, she grinned. She could knock them senseless with a few heavy books.

A sound flitted through the garden, and some of the guards glanced toward the source. Three women appeared from around a nearby hedge, clustered in conversation.

Most of the talk Celaena had overheard yesterday was immensely dull, and she didn’t expect much as the women neared. They wore fine dresses, though the one in the middle—the raven-haired one—wore the finest. The red skirts were the size of a tent, and her bodice was so tightly bound that Celaena wondered if her waist were any more than sixteen inches. The other women were blondes dressed in pale blue, their matching gowns suggesting their rank as ladies-in-waiting. Celaena backed away from the ledge as they stopped at the nearby fountain.

From her place at the back of the balcony, Celaena could still see as the woman in red brushed a hand down the front of her skirts. “I should have worn my white dress,” she said loudly enough for everyone in Rifthold to hear. “Dorian likes white.” She adjusted a pleat in her skirt. “But I’ll wager that everyone’s wearing white.”

“Shall we go change, milady?” asked one of the blondes.

“No,” snapped the woman. “This dress is fine. Old and shabby as it is.”

“But—” said the other blonde, then stopped as her mistress’s head whipped around. Celaena approached the rail again and peered over. The dress hardly looked old.

“It won’t take long for Dorian to ask me for a private audience.” Celaena now leaned over the edge of the balcony. The guards watched the three girls, rapt for another reason entirely. “Though I worry how much Perrington’s courting will interfere; but I do adore the man for inviting me to Rifthold. My mother must be writhing in her grave!” She paused, and then said: “I wonder who she is.”

“Your mother, milady?”

“The girl the prince brought into Rifthold. I heard he traveled all over Erilea to find her, and that she rode into the city on the Captain of the Guard’s horse. I’ve heard nothing else about her. Not even her name.” The two women lagged behind their mistress and exchanged exasperated looks that informed the assassin this conversation had been held many times before. “I don’t need to worry,” the woman mused. “The prince’s harlot won’t be well-received.”

His what?

The ladies in waiting stopped beneath the balcony, batting their eyelashes at the guards. “I need my pipe,” the woman murmured, rubbing her temples. “I feel a headache coming on.” Celaena’s brows rose. “Regardless,” the woman continued, striding away, “I shall have to watch my back. I might even have to—”


The women screamed, the guards whirled with their crossbows pointed, and Celaena looked skyward as she retreated from the rail and into the shadows of the balcony doorway. The flowerpot had missed. This time.

The woman cursed so colorfully that Celaena clamped a hand over her mouth to keep from laughing. The servants cooed, wiping mud from the woman’s skirts and suede shoes. “Be quiet!” the woman hissed. The guards, wisely, didn’t let their amusement show. “Be quiet and let’s go!”

The women hurried off as the prince’s harlot strode into her chambers and called for her servants to dress her in the finest gown they could find.

Chapter 9

Celaena stood before the rosewood mirror, smiling.

She ran a hand down her gown. Sea-foam white lace bloomed from the sweeping neckline, washing upon her breast from the powder-green ocean of silk that made up the dress. A red sash covered the waist, forming an inverted peak that separated the bodice from the explosion of skirts beneath. Patterns of clear green beads were embroidered in whorls and vines across the whole of it, and bone-colored stitching stretched along the ribs. Tucked inside her bodice was the small makeshift hairpin dagger, though it poked mercilessly at her chest. She lifted her hands to touch her curled and pinned hair.

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