A Court of Mist and Fury Page 46

Rhys reached into a bag I hadn’t realized he’d been carrying—no, one he’d summoned from whatever pocket between realms he used for storage. He chucked an object toward the boy, who looked no more than eight. White gleamed as it clacked on the rough stone floor. Another bone, long and sturdy—and jagged on one end.

“The calf-bone that made the final kill when Feyre slew the Middengard Wyrm,” Rhys said.

My very blood stilled. There had been many bones that I’d laid in my trap—I hadn’t noticed which had ended the Wyrm. Or thought anyone would.

“Come inside,” was all the Bone Carver said, and there was no innocence, no kindness in that child’s voice.

I took one step in and no more.

“It has been an age,” the boy said, gobbling down the sight of me, “since something new came into this world.”

“Hello,” I breathed.

The boy’s smile was a mockery of innocence. “Are you frightened?”

“Yes,” I said. Never lie—that had been Rhys’s first command.

The boy stood, but kept to the other side of the cell. “Feyre,” he murmured, cocking his head. The orb of faelight glazed the inky hair in silver. “Fay-ruh,” he said again, drawing out the syllables as if he could taste them. At last, he straightened his head. “Where did you go when you died?”

“A question for a question,” I replied, as I’d been instructed over breakfast.

The Bone Carver inclined his head to Rhysand. “You were always smarter than your forefathers.” But those eyes alighted on me. “Tell me where you went, what you saw—and I will answer your question.”

Rhys gave me a subtle nod, but his eyes were wary. Because what the boy had asked …

I had to calm my breathing to think—to remember.

But there was blood and death and pain and screaming—and she was breaking me, killing me so slowly, and Rhys was there, roaring in fury as I died, Tamlin begging for my life on his knees before her throne … But there was so much agony, and I wanted it to be over, wanted it all to stop—

Rhys had gone rigid while he monitored the Bone Carver, as if those memories were freely flowing past the mental shields I’d made sure were intact this morning. And I wondered if he thought I’d give up then and there.

I bunched my hands into fists.

I had lived; I had gotten out. I would get out today.

“I heard the crack,” I said. Rhys’s head whipped toward me. “I heard the crack when she broke my neck. It was in my ears, but also inside my skull. I was gone before I felt anything more than the first lash of pain.”

The Bone Carver’s violet eyes seemed to glow brighter.

“And then it was dark. A different sort of dark than this place. But there was a … thread,” I said. “A tether. And I yanked on it—and suddenly I could see. Not through my eyes, but—but his,” I said, inclining my head toward Rhys. I uncurled the fingers of my tattooed hand. “And I knew I was dead, and this tiny scrap of spirit was all that was left of me, clinging to the thread of our bargain.”

“But was there anyone there—were you seeing anything beyond?”

“There was only that bond in the darkness.”

Rhysand’s face had gone pale, his mouth a tight line. “And when I was Made anew,” I said, “I followed that bond back—to me. I knew that home was on the other end of it. There was light then. Like swimming up through sparkling wine—”

“Were you afraid?”

“All I wanted was to return to—to the people around me. I wanted it badly enough I didn’t have room for fear. The worst had happened, and the darkness was calm and quiet. It did not seem like a bad thing to fade into. But I wanted to go home. So I followed the bond home.”

“There was no other world,” the Bone Carver pushed.

“If there was or is, I did not see it.”

“No light, no portal?”

Where is it that you want to go? The question almost leaped off my tongue. “It was only peace and darkness.”

“Did you have a body?”

“No.”

“Did—”

“That’s enough from you,” Rhysand purred—the sound like velvet over sharpest steel. “You said a question for a question. Now you’ve asked … ” He did a tally on his fingers. “Six.”

The Bone Carver leaned back against the wall and slid to a sitting position. “It is a rare day when I meet someone who comes back from true death. Forgive me for wanting to peer behind the curtain.” He waved a delicate hand in my direction. “Ask it, girl.”

“If there was no body—nothing but perhaps a bit of bone,” I said as solidly as I could, “would there be a way to resurrect that person? To grow them a new body, put their soul into it.”

Those eyes flashed. “Was the soul somehow preserved? Contained?”

I tried not to think about the eye ring Amarantha had worn, the soul she’d trapped inside to witness her every horror and depravity. “Yes.”

“There is no way.”

I almost sighed in relief.

“Unless … ” The boy bounced each finger off his thumb, his hand like some pale, twitchy insect. “Long ago, before the High Fae, before man, there was a Cauldron … They say all the magic was contained inside it, that the world was born in it. But it fell into the wrong hands. And great and horrible things were done with it. Things were forged with it. Such wicked things that the Cauldron was eventually stolen back at great cost. It could not be destroyed, for it had Made all things, and if it were broken, then life would cease to be. So it was hidden. And forgotten. Only with that Cauldron could something that is dead be reforged like that.”

Rhysand’s face was again a mask of calm. “Where did they hide it?”

“Tell me a secret no one knows, Lord of Night, and I’ll tell you mine.”

I braced myself for whatever horrible truth was about to come my way. But Rhysand said, “My right knee gets a twinge of pain when it rains. I wrecked it during the War, and it’s hurt ever since.”

The Bone Carver bit out a harsh laugh, even as I gaped at Rhys. “You always were my favorite,” he said, giving a smile I would never for a moment think was childlike. “Very well. The Cauldron was hidden at the bottom of a frozen lake in Lapplund—” Rhys began to turn for me, as if he’d head there right now, but the Bone Carver added, “And vanished a long, long time ago.” Rhys halted. “I don’t know where it went to—or where it is now. Millennia before you were born, the three feet on which it stands were successfully cleaved from its base in an attempt to fracture some of its power. It worked—barely. Removing the feet was like cutting off the first knuckle of a finger. Irksome, but you could still use the rest with some difficulty. The feet were hidden at three different temples—Cesere, Sangravah, and Itica. If they have gone missing, it is likely the Cauldron is active once more—and that the wielder wants it at full power and not a wisp of it missing.”

That was why the temples had been ransacked. To get the feet on which the Cauldron stood and restore it to its full power. Rhys merely said, “I don’t suppose you know who now has the Cauldron.”

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