A Court of Mist and Fury Page 137

But just as Tamlin neared his Emissary, he staggered a step. His face went white with rage.

And I knew Tamlin understood a moment before the king laughed. “I don’t believe it. Your bride left you only to find her mate. The Mother has a warped sense of humor, it seems. And what a talent—tell me, girl: how did you unravel that spell?”

I ignored him. But the hatred in Tamlin’s eyes made my knees buckle. “I’m sorry,” I said, and meant it.

Tamlin’s eyes were on Rhysand, his face near-feral. “You,” he snarled, the sound more animal than Fae. “What did you do to her?”

Behind us, the doors opened and soldiers poured in. Some looked like the Attor. Some looked worse. More and more, filling up the room, the exits, armor and weapons clanking.

Mor and Cassian, Azriel sagging and heavy-lidded between them, scanned each soldier and weapon, sizing up our best odds of escape. I left them to it as Rhys and I faced Tamlin.

“I’m not going with you,” I spat at Tamlin. “And even if I did … You spineless, stupid fool for selling us out to him! Do you know what he wants to do with that Cauldron?”

“Oh, I’m going to do many, many things with it,” the king said.

And the Cauldron appeared again between us.

“Starting now.”

Kill him kill him kill him

I could not tell if the voice was mine or the Cauldron’s. I didn’t care. I unleashed myself.

Talons and wings and shadows were instantly around me, surrounded by water and fire—

Then they vanished, stifled as that invisible hand gripped my power again, so hard I gasped.

“Ah,” the king said to me, clicking his tongue, “that. Look at you. A child of all seven courts—like and unlike all. How the Cauldron purrs in your presence. Did you plan to use it? Destroy it? With that book, you could do anything you wished.”

I didn’t say anything. The king shrugged. “You’ll tell me soon enough.”

“I made no bargain with you.”

“No, but your master did, so you will obey.”

Molten rage poured into me. I hissed at Tamlin, “If you bring me from here, if you take me from my mate, I will destroy you. I will destroy your court, and everything you hold dear.”

Tamlin’s lips thinned. But he said simply, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Lucien cringed.

The king jerked his chin to the guards by the side door through which Tamlin and Lucien had appeared. “No—she doesn’t.” The doors opened again. “There will be no destroying,” the king went on as people—as women walked through those doors.

Four women. Four humans. The four remaining queens.

“Because,” the king said, the queens’ guards falling into rank behind them, hauling something in the core of their formation, “you will find, Feyre Archeron, that it is in your best interest to behave.”

The four queens sneered at us with hate in their eyes. Hate.

And parted to let their personal guards through.

Fear like I had never known entered my heart as the men dragged my sisters, gagged and bound, before the King of Hybern.

CHAPTER

65

This was some new hell. Some new level of nightmare. I even went so far as to try to wake myself up.

But there they were—in their nightgowns, the silk and lace dirty, torn.

Elain was quietly sobbing, the gag soaked with her tears. Nesta, hair disheveled as if she’d fought like a wildcat, was panting as she took us in. Took in the Cauldron.

“You made a very big mistake,” the king said to Rhysand, my mate’s arms banded around me, “the day you went after the Book. I had no need of it. I was content to let it lie hidden. But the moment your forces started sniffing around … I decided who better than to be my liaison to the human realm than my newly reborn friend, Jurian? He’d just finished all those months of recovering from the process, and longed to see what his former home had become, so he was more than happy to visit the continent for an extended visit.”

Indeed the queens smiled at him—bowed their heads. Rhys’s arms tightened in silent warning.

“The brave, cunning Jurian, who suffered so badly at the end of the War—now my ally. Here to help me convince these queens to aid in my cause. For a price of his own, of course, but it has no bearing here. And wiser to work with me, my men, than to allow you monsters in the Night Court to rule and attack. Jurian was right to warn their Majesties that you’d try to take the Book—that you would feed them lies of love and goodness, when he had seen what the High Lord of the Night Court was capable of. The hero of the human forces, reborn as a gesture to the human world of my good faith. I do not wish to invade the continent—but to work with them. My powers ensconced their court from prying eyes, just to show them the benefits.” A smirk at Azriel, who could hardly lift his head to snarl back. “Such impressive attempts to infiltrate their sacred palace, Shadowsinger—and utter proof to their Majesties, of course, that your court is not as benevolent as you seem.”

“Liar,” I hissed, and whirled on the queens, daring only a step away from Rhys. “They are liars, and if you do not let my sisters go, I will slaughter—”

“Do you hear the threats, the language they use in the Night Court?” the king said to the mortal queens, their guards now around us in a half circle. “Slaughter, ultimatums … They wish to end life. I desire to give it.”

The eldest queen said to him, refusing to acknowledge me, my words, “Then show us—prove this gift you mentioned.”

Rhysand tugged me back against him. He said quietly to the queen, “You’re a fool.”

The king cut in, “Is she? Why submit to old age and ailments when what I offer is so much better?” He waved a hand toward me. “Eternal youth. Do you deny the benefits? A mortal queen becomes one who might reign forever. Of course, there are risks—the transition can be … difficult. But a strong-willed individual could survive.”

The youngest queen, the dark-haired one, smiled slightly. Arrogant youth—and bitter old age. Only the two others, the ones who wore white and black, seemed to hesitate, stepping closer to each other—and their towering guards.

The ancient queen lifted her chin, “Show us. Demonstrate it can be done, that it is safe.” She had spoken of eternal youth that day, had spat in my face about it. Two-faced bitch.

The king nodded. “Why did you think I asked my dear friend Ianthe to see who Feyre Archeron would appreciate having with her for eternity?” Even as horror filled my ears with roaring silence, I glanced at the queens, the question no doubt written on my face. The king explained, “Oh, I asked them first. They deemed it too … uncouth to betray two young, misguided women. Ianthe had no such qualms. Consider it my wedding present for you both,” he added to Tamlin.

But Tamlin’s face tightened. “What?”

The king cocked his head, savoring every word. “I think the High Priestess was waiting until your return to tell you, but didn’t you ever ask why she believed I might be able to break the bargain? Why she had so many musings on the idea? So many millennia have the High Priestesses been forced to their knees for the High Lords. And during those years she dwelled in that foreign court … such an open mind, she has. Once we met, once I painted for her a portrait of a Prythian free of High Lords, where the High Priestesses might rule with grace and wisdom … She didn’t take much convincing.”

Prev Next