Home > Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)(8)

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)(8)
Author: Sarah J. Maas

“What happened to Wesley?” she asked. “Did Farran’s men catch him?”

Chaol ran a hand through his hair, glancing down at the rug. “No. We found Wesley a day later—courtesy of Arobynn Hamel.”

She felt the blood drain from her face, but dared to ask, “How?”

Chaol studied her closely, warily. “Wesley’s body was impaled on the iron fence outside Rourke’s house. There was … enough blood to suggest that Wesley was alive when they did it. They never confessed, but we got the sense that the servants in the household had also been instructed to let him stay there until he died.

“We thought it was an attempt to balance the blood feud—so that when the next crime lord ascended, they wouldn’t view Arobynn and his assassins as enemies.”

She stared at the carpet again. The night she’d broken out of the Assassins’ Keep to hunt down Farran, Wesley had tried to stop her. He’d tried to tell her it was a trap.

Celaena shut down the thought before it reached its conclusion. That was a truth she’d have to take out and examine at another time, when she was alone, when she didn’t have Archer and the rebel movement and all that nonsense to worry about. When she could try to understand why Arobynn Hamel might have betrayed her—and what she was going to do with that horrible knowledge. How much she’d make him suffer—and bleed for it.

After a few moments of silence, Chaol asked, “We never learned why Wesley went after Rourke Farran, though. Wesley was just a personal bodyguard. What did he have against Farran?”

Her eyes were burning, and she looked to the window, where the night sky was bathed in moonlight. “It was an act of revenge.” She could still see Sam’s twisted corpse, lying on that table in the room beneath the Assassins’ Keep; still see Farran crouched in front of her, his hands roaming over her paralyzed body. She swallowed down the tightness in her throat. “Farran captured, tortured, and then murdered one of … one of my … companions. And then the next night, I went out to repay the favor. It didn’t end so well for me.”

A log shifted in the fire, breaking open and filling the room with a flash of light.

“That was the night you were captured?” Chaol asked. “But I thought you didn’t know who had betrayed you.”

“I still don’t. Someone hired me and my companion to kill Farran, but it was all just a trap, and Farran was the bait.”

Silence; then—“What was his name?”

She pushed her lips together, shoving away the memory of how he’d looked the last time she’d seen him, broken on that table. “Sam,” she got out. “His name was Sam.” She took an uneven breath. “I don’t even know where they buried him. I don’t even know who I would ask about it.”

Chaol didn’t reply, and she didn’t know why she bothered talking, but the words just tumbled out. “I failed him,” she said. “In every way that counted, I failed him.”

Another long silence, then a sigh. “Not in one way,” Chaol said. “I bet he would have wanted you to survive—to live. So you didn’t fail him, not in that regard.”

She had to look away in order to force her eyes to stop burning as she nodded.

After a moment, Chaol spoke again. “Her name was Lithaen. Three years ago, she worked for one of the ladies of the court. And Roland somehow found out and thought it would be amusing for me to discover him in bed with her. I know it’s nothing like what you went through …”

She’d never known that he’d ever been interested in anyone, but … “Why did she do it?”

He shrugged, though his face was still bleak with the memory. “Because Roland is a Havilliard, and I’m just the Captain of the Guard. He even convinced her to go back to Meah with him—though I never learned what became of her.”

“You loved her.”

“I thought I did. And I thought she loved me.” He shook his head, as if silently chiding himself. “Did Sam love you?”

Yes. More than anyone had ever loved her. He’d loved her enough to risk everything—to give up everything. He’d loved her so much that she still felt the echoes of it, even now. “Very much,” she breathed.

The clock chimed eleven thirty, and Chaol shook his head, the tension falling from him. “I’m exhausted.”

She stood, somehow having no clue how they’d wound up talking about the people who had meant so much to them. “Then I should go.”

He got to his feet, his eyes so bright. “I’ll walk you back to your room.”

She lifted her chin. “I thought I didn’t need to be escorted everywhere now.”

“You don’t,” he said, walking to the door. “But it is something that friends tend to do.”

“Would you walk Dorian back to his room?” She batted her eyelashes at him, striding through the door as he opened it for her. “Or is this a privilege that only your lady-friends receive?”

“If I had any lady-friends, I’d certainly extend the offer. I’m not sure you qualify as a lady, though.”

“So chivalrous. No wonder those girls find excuses to be in the gardens every morning.”

He snorted, and they fell silent as they walked through the quiet, dim halls of the castle, making their way back to her rooms on the other side. It was a trek, and often a cold one, since many of the halls were lined with windows that didn’t keep out the winter chill.

When they reached the door to her rooms, he bid her a quick good night and began to walk away. Her fingers were around the brass door handle when she turned to him.

“For what it’s worth, Chaol,” she said. He faced her, his hands in his pockets. She gave him a slight smile. “If she picked Roland over you, that makes her the greatest fool who ever lived.”

He stared at her for a long moment before he quietly said, “Thank you,” and walked back to his room.

Celaena watched him go, watched those powerful muscles shifting in his back, visible even through his dark tunic, suddenly grateful that this Lithaen had long ago left the castle.

The midnight hour chimed through the castle, the off-kilter ringing of the wretched clock tower in the garden echoing through the dark, silent halls. Though Chaol had escorted her to her door, five minutes of pacing in her bedroom had sent her wandering again, heading for the library. She had mountains of unread books sitting in her rooms but didn’t feel like reading any of them. She needed something to do. Something to take her mind off her discussion with Chaol and the memories she’d dragged into the open tonight.

Celaena wrapped her cloak tightly around her, glaring at the fierce winds whipping the snow outside the drafty windows. Hopefully there would be a few hearths lit in the library. If not, she’d grab a book that did interest her, run back to her room, and curl up with Fleetfoot in her toasty bed.

Celaena turned a corner, entering the dark, window-lined hallway that ran past the towering doors of the library, and froze.

With the chill tonight, it was no surprise to see someone completely concealed by a black cloak, hood drawn far over the face. But something about the figure standing between the open library doors made some ancient, primal part of her send a warning pulse so strong that she didn’t take another step.

The person swiveled its head toward her, pausing as well.

Outside the hall windows, snow swirled, pressing against the glass.

It was just a person, she told herself as the figure now turned to face her fully. A person wearing a cloak darker than night, a hood so heavy it concealed every feature of the face inside.

It sniffed at her, a huffing, animal sound.

She didn’t dare move.

It sniffed again, and took a step toward her. The way it moved, like smoke and shadow …

A faint warmth bloomed against her chest, then a pulsing blue light—

The Eye of Elena was glowing.

The thing halted, and Celaena stopped breathing.

It hissed, and then slithered a step back into the shadows beyond the library doors. The tiny blue gem in the center of her amulet glowed brighter, and Celaena blinked against the light.

When she opened her eyes, the amulet was dark, and the hooded creature was gone.

   
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