A Court of Mist and Fury Page 47

The Bone Carver pointed a small finger at me. “Promise that you’ll give me her bones when she dies and I’ll think about it.” I stiffened, but the boy laughed. “No—I don’t think even you would promise that, Rhysand.”

I might have called the look on Rhys’s face a warning. “Thank you for your help,” he said, placing a hand on my back to guide me out.

But if he knew … I turned again to the boy-creature. “There was a choice—in Death,” I said.

Those eyes guttered with cobalt fire.

Rhys’s hand contracted on my back, but remained. Warm, steady. And I wondered if the touch was more to reassure him that I was there, still breathing.

“I knew,” I went on, “that I could drift away into the dark. And I chose to fight—to hold on for a bit longer. Yet I knew if I wanted, I could have faded. And maybe it would be a new world, a realm of rest and peace. But I wasn’t ready for it—not to go there alone. I knew there was something else waiting beyond that dark. Something good.”

For a moment, those blue eyes flared brighter. Then the boy said, “You know who has the Cauldron, Rhysand. Who has been pillaging the temples. You only came here to confirm what you have long guessed.”

“The King of Hybern.”

Dread sluiced through my veins and pooled in my stomach. I shouldn’t have been surprised, should have known, but …

The carver said nothing more. Waiting for another truth.

So I offered up another shattered piece of me. “When Amarantha made me kill those two faeries, if the third hadn’t been Tamlin, I would have put the dagger in my own heart at the end.”

Rhys went still.

“I knew there was no coming back from what I’d done,” I said, wondering if the blue flame in the carver’s eyes might burn my ruined soul to ash. “And once I broke their curse, once I knew I’d saved them, I just wanted enough time to turn that dagger on myself. I only decided I wanted to live when she killed me, and I knew I had not finished whatever … whatever it was I’d been born to do.”

I dared a glance at Rhys, and there was something like devastation on his beautiful face. It was gone in a blink.

Even the Bone Carver said gently, “With the Cauldron, you could do other things than raise the dead. You could shatter the wall.”

The only thing keeping human lands—my family—safe from not just Hybern, but any other faeries.

“It is likely that Hybern has been quiet for so many years because he was hunting the Cauldron, learning its secrets. Resurrection of a specific individual might very well have been his first test once the feet were reunited—and now he finds that the Cauldron is pure energy, pure power. And like any magic, it can be depleted. So he will let it rest, let it gather strength—learn its secrets to feed it more energy, more power.”

“Is there a way to stop it,” I breathed.

Silence. Expectant, waiting silence.

Rhys’s voice was hoarse as he said, “Don’t offer him one more—”

“When the Cauldron was made,” the carver interrupted, “its dark maker used the last of the molten ore to forge a book. The Book of Breathings. In it, written between the carved words, are the spells to negate the Cauldron’s power—or control it wholly. But after the War, it was split into two pieces. One went to the Fae, one to the six human queens. It was part of the Treaty, purely symbolic, as the Cauldron had been lost for millennia and considered mere myth. The Book was believed harmless, because like calls to like—and only that which was Made can speak those spells and summon its power. No creature born of the earth may wield it, so the High Lords and humans dismissed it as little more than a historical heirloom, but if the Book were in the hands of something reforged … You would have to test such a theory, of course—but … it might be possible.” His eyes narrowed to amused slits as I realized … realized …

“So now the High Lord of Summer possesses our piece, and the reigning mortal queens have the other entombed in their shining palace by the sea. Prythian’s half is guarded, protected with blood-spells keyed to Summer himself. The one belonging to the mortal queens … They were crafty, when they received their gift. They used our own kind to spell the Book, to bind it—so that if it were ever stolen, if, let’s say, a High Lord were to winnow into their castle to steal it … the Book would melt into ore and be lost. It must be freely given by a mortal queen, with no trickery, no magic involved.” A little laugh. “Such clever, lovely creatures, humans.”

The carver seemed lost in ancient memory—then shook his head. “Reunite both halves of the Book of Breathings and you will be able to nullify the powers of the Cauldron. Hopefully before it returns to full strength and shatters that wall.”

I didn’t bother saying thank you. Not with the information he’d told us. Not when I’d been forced to say those things—and could still feel Rhys’s lingering attention. As if he’d suspected, but never believed just how badly I’d broken in that moment with Amarantha.

We turned away, his hand sliding from my back to grip my hand.

The touch was light—gentle. And I suddenly had no strength to even grip it back.

The carver picked up the bone Rhysand had brought him and weighed it in those child’s hands. “I shall carve your death in here, Feyre.”

Up and up into the darkness we walked, through the sleeping stone and the monsters who dwelled within it. At last I said to Rhys, “What did you see?”

“You first.”

“A boy—around eight; dark-haired and blue-eyed.”

Rhys shuddered—the most human gesture I’d seen him make.

“What did you see?” I pushed.

“Jurian,” Rhys said. “He appeared exactly as Jurian looked the last time I saw him: facing Amarantha when they fought to the death.”

I didn’t want to learn how the Bone Carver knew who we’d come to ask about.

CHAPTER

19

“Amren’s right,” Rhys drawled, leaning against the threshold of the town house sitting room. “You are like dogs, waiting for me to come home. Maybe I should buy treats.”

Cassian gave him a vulgar gesture from where he lounged on the couch before the hearth, an arm slung over the back behind Mor. Though everything about his powerful, muscled body suggested someone at ease, there was a tightness in his jaw, a coiled-up energy that told me they’d been waiting here for a while.

Azriel lingered by the window, comfortably ensconced in shadows, a light flurry of snow dusting the lawn and street behind him. And Amren …

Nowhere to be seen. I couldn’t tell if I was relieved or not. I’d have to hunt her down to give her back the necklace soon—if Rhys’s warnings and her own words were to be believed.

Damp and cold from the mist and wind that chased us down from the Prison, I strode for the armchair across from the couch, which had been shaped, like so much of the furniture here, to accommodate Illyrian wings. I stretched my stiff limbs toward the fire, and stifled a groan at the delicious heat.

“How’d it go?” Mor said, straightening beside Cassian. No gown today—just practical black pants and a thick blue sweater.

“The Bone Carver,” Rhys said, “is a busybody gossip who likes to pry into other people’s business far too much.”

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