A Court of Mist and Fury Page 42

Through the bond in my hand, I could have sworn I felt a glimmer of pleased surprise. I checked my mental shields—but they were intact. And Rhysand’s calm face revealed no hint of its origin.

So I said clearly, steadily to him, “I accept your offer—to work with you. To earn my keep. And help with Hybern in whatever way I can.”

“Good,” Rhys merely replied. Even as the others raised their brows. Yes, they’d obviously not been told this was an interview of sorts. “Because we start tomorrow.”

“Where? And what?” I sputtered.

Rhys interlaced his fingers and rested them on the table, and I realized there was another point to this dinner beyond my decision as he announced to all of us, “Because the King of Hybern is indeed about to launch a war, and he wants to resurrect Jurian to do it.”

Jurian—the ancient warrior whose soul Amarantha had imprisoned within that hideous ring as punishment for killing her sister. The ring that contained his eye …

“Bullshit,” Cassian spat. “There’s no way to do that.”

Amren had gone still, and it was she whom Azriel was observing, marking.

Amarantha was just the beginning, Rhys had once told me. Had he known this even then? Had those months Under the Mountain merely been a prelude to whatever hell was about to be unleashed? Resurrecting the dead. What sort of unholy power—

Mor groaned, “Why would the king want to resurrect Jurian? He was so odious. All he liked to do was talk about himself.”

The age of these people hit me like a brick, despite all they’d told me minutes earlier. The War—they had all … they had all fought in the War five hundred years ago.

“That’s what I want to find out,” Rhysand said. “And how the king plans to do it.”

Amren at last said, “Word will have reached him about Feyre’s Making. He knows it’s possible for the dead to be remade.”

I shifted in my seat. I’d expected brute armies, pure bloodshed. But this—

“All seven High Lords would have to agree to that,” Mor countered. “There’s not a chance it happens. He’ll take another route.” Her eyes narrowed to slits as she faced Rhys. “All the slaughtering—the massacres at temples. You think it’s tied to this?”

“I know it’s tied to this. I didn’t want to tell you until I knew for certain. But Azriel confirmed that they’d raided the memorial in Sangravah three days ago. They’re looking for something—or found it.” Azriel nodded in confirmation, even as Mor cast a surprised look in his direction. Azriel gave her an apologetic shrug back.

I breathed, “That—that’s why the ring and the finger bone vanished after Amarantha died. For this. But who …” My mouth went dry. “They never caught the Attor, did they?”

Rhys said too quietly, “No. No, they didn’t.” The food in my stomach turned leaden. He said to Amren, “How does one take an eye and a finger bone and make it into a man again? And how do we stop it?”

Amren frowned at her untouched wine. “You already know how to find the answer. Go to the Prison. Talk to the Bone Carver.”

“Shit,” Mor and Cassian both said.

Rhys said calmly, “Perhaps you would be more effective, Amren.”

I was grateful for the table separating us as Amren hissed, “I will not set foot in the Prison, Rhysand, and you know it. So go yourself, or send one of these dogs to do it for you.”

Cassian grinned, showing his white, straight teeth—perfect for biting. Amren snapped hers once in return.

Azriel just shook his head. “I’ll go. The Prison sentries know me—what I am.”

I wondered if the shadowsinger was usually the first to throw himself into danger. Mor’s fingers stilled on the stem of her wineglass, her eyes narrowing on Amren. The jewels, the red gown—all perhaps a way to downplay whatever dark power roiled in her veins—

“If anyone’s going to the Prison,” Rhys said before Mor opened her mouth, “it’s me. And Feyre.”

“What?” Mor demanded, palms now flat on the table.

“He won’t talk to Rhys,” Amren said to the others, “or to Azriel. Or to any of us. We’ve got nothing to offer him. But an immortal with a mortal soul …” She stared at my chest as if she could see the heart pounding beneath … And I contemplated yet again what she ate. “The Bone Carver might be willing indeed to talk to her.”

They stared at me. As if waiting for me to beg not to go, to curl up and cower. Their quick, brutal interview to see if they wanted to work with me, I supposed.

But the Bone Carver, the naga, the Attor, the Suriel, the Bogge, the Middengard Wyrm … Maybe they’d broken whatever part of me truly feared. Or maybe fear was only something I now felt in my dreams.

“Your choice, Feyre,” Rhys said casually.

To shirk and mourn or face some unknown horror—the choice was easy. “How bad can it be?” was my response.

“Bad,” Cassian said. None of them bothered to contradict him.

CHAPTER

17

Jurian.

The name clanged through me, even after we finished dinner, even after Mor and Cassian and Azriel and Amren had stopped debating and snarling about who would do what and be where while Rhys and I went to the Prison—whatever that was—tomorrow.

Rhys flew me back over the city, plunging into the lights and darkness. I quickly found I much preferred ascending, and couldn’t bring myself to watch for too long without feeling my dinner rise up. Not fear—just some reaction of my body.

We flew in silence, the whistling winter wind the only sound, despite his cocoon of warmth blocking it from freezing me entirely. Only when the music of the streets welcomed us did I peer into his face, his features unreadable as he focused on flying. “Tonight—I felt you again. Through the bond. Did I get past your shields?”

“No,” he said, scanning the cobblestone streets below. “This bond is … a living thing. An open channel between us, shaped by my powers, shaped … by what you needed when we made the bargain.”

“I needed not to be dead when I agreed.”

“You needed not to be alone.”

Our eyes met. It was too dark to read whatever was in his gaze. I was the one who looked away first.

“I’m still learning how and why we can sometimes feel things the other doesn’t want known,” he admitted. “So I don’t have an explanation for what you felt tonight.”

You needed not to be alone… .

But what about him? Fifty years he’d been separated from his friends, his family …

I said, “You let Amarantha and the entire world think you rule and delight in a Court of Nightmares. It’s all a front—to keep what matters most safe.”

The city lights gilded his face. “I love my people, and my family. Do not think I wouldn’t become a monster to keep them protected.”

“You already did that Under the Mountain.” The words were out before I could stop them.

The wind rustled his hair. “And I suspect I’ll have to do it again soon enough.”

“What was the cost?” I dared ask. “Of keeping this place secret and free?”

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