A Court of Mist and Fury Page 30

“I’m not going back.” The words rang in me like a death knell. “Not—not until I figure things out.” I shoved against the wall of anger and sorrow and outright despair as my thumb brushed over the vacant band of skin where that ring had once sat.

One day at a time. Maybe—maybe Tamlin would come around. Heal himself, that jagged wound of festering fear. Maybe I’d sort myself out. I didn’t know.

But I did know that if I stayed in that manor, if I was locked up one more time … It might finish the breaking that Amarantha had started.

Rhysand summoned a mug of hot tea from nowhere and handed it to me. “Drink it.”

I took the mug, letting its warmth soak into my stiff fingers. He watched me until I took a sip, and then went back to monitoring the mountains. I took another sip—peppermint and … licorice and another herb or spice.

I wasn’t going back. Maybe I’d never even … gotten to come back. Not from Under the Mountain.

When the mug was half-finished, I fished for something, anything, to say to keep the crushing silence at bay. “The darkness—is that … part of the power you gave me?”

“One would assume so.”

I drained the rest of the mug. “No wings?”

“If you inherited some of Tamlin’s shape-shifting, perhaps you can make wings of your own.”

A shiver went down my spine at the thought, at the claws I’d grown that day with Lucien. “And the other High Lords? Ice—that’s Winter. That shield I once made of hardened wind—who did that come from? What might the others have given me? Is—is winnowing tied to any one of you in particular?”

He considered. “Wind? The Day Court, likely. And winnowing—it’s not confined to any court. It’s wholly dependent on your own reserve of power—and training.” I didn’t feel like mentioning how spectacularly I’d failed to even move an inch. “And as for the gifts you got from everyone else … That’s for you to find out, I suppose.”

“I should have known your goodwill would wear off after a minute.”

Rhys let out a low chuckle and got to his feet, stretching his muscled arms over his head and rolling his neck. As if he’d been sitting there for a long, long while. For the entirety of the night. “Rest a day or two, Feyre,” he said. “Then take on the task of figuring out everything else. I have business in another part of my lands; I’ll be back by the end of the week.”

Despite how long I’d slept, I was so tired—tired in my bones, in my crumpled heart. When I didn’t reply, Rhys strode off between the moonstone pillars.

And I saw how I would spend the next few days: in solitude, with nothing to do and only my own, horrible thoughts for company. I began speaking before I could reconsider. “Take me with you.”

Rhys halted as he pushed through two purple gossamer curtains. And slowly, he turned back. “You should rest.”

“I’ve rested enough,” I said, setting down the empty mug and standing. My head spun slightly. When had I last eaten? “Wherever you’re going, whatever you’re doing—take me along. I’ll stay out of trouble. Just … Please.” I hated the last word; choked on it. It hadn’t done anything to sway Tamlin.

For a long moment, Rhys said nothing. Then he prowled toward me, his long stride eating up the distance and his face set like stone. “If you come with me, there is no going back. You will not be allowed to speak of what you see to anyone outside of my court. Because if you do, people will die—my people will die. So if you come, you will have to lie about it forever; if you return to the Spring Court, you cannot tell anyone there what you see, and who you meet, and what you will witness. If you would rather not have that between you and—your friends, then stay here.”

Stay here, stay locked up in the Spring Court … My chest was a gaping, open wound. I wondered if I’d bleed out from it—if a spirit could bleed out and die. Maybe that had already happened. “Take me with you,” I breathed. “I won’t tell anyone what I see. Even—them.” I couldn’t bear to say his name.

Rhys studied me for a few heartbeats. And finally he gave me a half smile. “We leave in ten minutes. If you want to freshen up, go ahead.”

An unusually polite reminder that I probably looked like the dead. I felt like it. But I said, “Where are we going?”

Rhys’s smile widened into a grin. “To Velaris—the City of Starlight.”

The moment I entered my room, the hollow quiet returned, washing away with it any questions I might have had about—about a city.

Everything had been destroyed by Amarantha. If there were a city in Prythian, I would no doubt be visiting a ruin.

I jumped into the bath, scrubbing down as swiftly as I could, then hurried into the Night Court clothes that had been left for me. My motions were mindless, each one some feeble attempt to keep from thinking about what had happened, what—what Tamlin had tried to do and had done, what I had done—

By the time I returned to the main atrium, Rhys was leaning against a moonstone pillar, picking at his nails. He merely said, “That was fifteen minutes,” before extending his hand.

I had no glimmering ember to even try to look like I cared about his taunting before we were swallowed by the roaring darkness.

Wind and night and stars wheeled by as he winnowed us through the world, and the calluses of his hand scratched against my own fading ones before—

Before sunlight, not starlight, greeted me. Squinting at the brightness, I found myself standing in what was unmistakably a foyer of someone’s house.

The ornate red carpet cushioned the one step I staggered away from him as I surveyed the warm, wood-paneled walls, the artwork, the straight, wide oak staircase ahead.

Flanking us were two rooms: on my left, a sitting room with a black marble fireplace, lots of comfortable, elegant, but worn furniture, and bookshelves built into every wall. On my right: a dining room with a long, cherrywood table big enough for ten people—small, compared to the dining room at the manor. Down the slender hallway ahead were a few more doors, ending in one that I assumed would lead to a kitchen. A town house.

I’d visited one once, when I was a child and my father had brought me along to the largest town in our territory: it’d belonged to a fantastically wealthy client, and had smelled like coffee and mothballs. A pretty place, but stuffy—formal.

This house … this house was a home that had been lived in and enjoyed and cherished.

And it was in a city.

PART TWO

THE HOUSE OF WIND

CHAPTER

14

“Welcome to my home,” Rhysand said.

A city—a world lay out there.

Morning sunlight streamed through the windows lining the front of the town house. The ornately carved wood door before me was inset with fogged glass that peeked into a small antechamber and the actual front door beyond it, shut and solid against whatever city lurked beyond.

And the thought of setting foot out into it, into the leering crowds, seeing the destruction Amarantha had likely wreaked upon them … A heavy weight pressed into my chest.

I hadn’t dredged up the focus to ask until now, hadn’t given an ounce of room to consider that this might be a mistake, but … “What is this place?”

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