A Court of Mist and Fury Page 49

More silence. On the street beyond the bay of windows, wisps of snow brushed past, dusting the cobblestones.

Rhys jerked his chin at me. “You are an immortal faerie—with a human heart. Even as such, you might very well set foot on the continent and be … hunted for it. So we set up a base in neutral territory. In a place where humans trust us—trust you, Feyre. And where other humans might risk going to meet with you. To hear the voice of Prythian after five centuries.”

“My family’s estate,” I said.

“Mother’s tits, Rhys,” Cassian cut in, wings flaring wide enough to nearly knock over the ceramic vase on the side table next to him. “You think we can just take over her family’s house, demand that of them?”

Nesta hadn’t wanted any dealings with the Fae, and Elain was so gentle, so sweet … how could I bring them into this?

“The land,” Mor said, reaching over to return the vase to its place, “will run red with blood, Cassian, regardless of what we do with her family. It is now a matter of where that blood will$flow—and how much will spill. How much human blood we can save.”

And maybe it made me a cowardly fool, but I said, “The Spring Court borders the wall—”

“The wall stretches across the sea. We’ll fly in offshore,” Rhys said without so much as a blink. “I won’t risk discovery from any court, though word might spread quickly enough once we’re there. I know it won’t be easy, Feyre, but if there’s any way you could convince those queens—”

“I’ll do it.” I said. Clare Beddor’s broken and nailed body flashed in my vision. Amarantha had been one of his commanders. Just one—of many. The King of Hybern had to be horrible beyond reckoning to be her master. If these people got their hands on my sisters … “They might not be happy about it, but I’ll make Elain and Nesta do it.”

I didn’t have the nerve to ask Rhys if he could simply force my family to agree to help us if they refused. I wondered if his powers would work on Nesta when even Tamlin’s glamour had failed against her steel mind.

“Then it’s settled,” Rhys said. None of them looked particularly happy. “Once Feyre darling returns from the Weaver, we’ll bring Hybern to its knees.”

Rhys and the others were gone that night—where, no one told me. But after the events of the day, I barely finished devouring the food Nuala and Cerridwen brought to my room before I tumbled into sleep.

I dreamed of a long, white bone, carved with horrifying accuracy: my face, twisted in agony and despair; the ash knife in my hand; a pool of blood leaking away from two corpses—

But I awoke to the watery light of winter dawn—my stomach full from the night before.

A mere minute after I’d risen to consciousness, Rhys knocked on my door. I’d barely granted him permission to enter before he stalked inside like a midnight wind, and chucked a belt hung with knives onto the foot of the bed.

“Hurry,” he said, flinging open the doors of the armoire and yanking out my fighting leathers. He tossed them onto the bed, too. “I want to be gone before the sun is fully up.”

“Why?” I said, pushing back the covers. No wings today.

“Because time is of the essence.” He dug out my socks and boots. “Once the King of Hybern realizes that someone is searching for the Book of Breathings to nullify the powers of the Cauldron, then his agents will begin hunting for it, too.”

“You suspected this for a while, though.” I hadn’t had the chance to discuss it with him last night. “The Cauldron, the king, the Book … You wanted it confirmed, but you were waiting for me.”

“Had you agreed to work with me two months ago, I would have taken you right to the Bone Carver to see if he confirmed my suspicions about your talents. But things didn’t go as planned.”

No, they most certainly hadn’t.

“The reading,” I said, sliding my feet into fleece-lined, thick-soled slippers. “That’s why you insisted on the lessons. So if your suspicions were true and I could harness the Book … I could actually read it—or any translation of whatever is inside.” A book that old might very well be written in an entirely different language. A different alphabet.

“Again,” he said, now striding for the dresser, “had you started to work with me, I would have told you why. I couldn’t risk discovery otherwise.” He paused with a hand on the knob. “You should have learned to read no matter what. But yes, when I told you it served my own purposes—it was because of this. Do you blame me for it?”

“No,” I said, and meant it. “But I’d prefer to be notified of any future schemes.”

“Duly noted.” Rhys yanked open the drawers and pulled out my undergarments. He dangled the bits of midnight lace and chuckled. “I’m surprised you didn’t demand Nuala and Cerridwen buy you something else.”

I stalked to him, snatching the lace away. “You’re drooling on the carpet.” I slammed the bathing room door before he could respond.

He was waiting as I emerged, already warm within the fur-lined leather. He held up the belt of knives, and I studied the loops and straps. “No swords, no bow or arrows,” he said. He’d worn his own Illyrian fighting leathers—that simple, brutal sword strapped down his spine.

“But knives are fine?”

Rhys knelt and spread wide the web of leather and steel, beckoning for me to stick a leg through one loop.

I did as instructed, ignoring the brush of his steady hands on my thighs as I stepped through the other loop, and he began tightening and buckling things. “She will not notice a knife, as she has knives in her cottage for eating and her work. But things that are out of place—objects that have not been there … A sword, a bow and arrow … She might sense those things.”

“What about me?”

He tightened a strap. Strong, capable hands—so at odds with the finery he usually wore to dazzle the rest of the world into thinking he was something else entirely. “Do not make a sound, do not touch anything but the object she took from me.”

Rhys looked up, hands braced on my thighs.

Bow, he’d once ordered Tamlin. And now here he was, on his knees before me. His eyes glinted as if he remembered it, too. Had that been a part of his game—that façade? Or had it been vengeance for the horrible blood feud between them?

“If we’re correct about your powers,” he said, “if the Bone Carver wasn’t lying to us, then you and the object will have the same … imprint, thanks to the preserving spells I placed on it long ago. You are one and the same. She will not notice your presence so long as you touch only it. You will be invisible to her.”

“She’s blind?”

A nod. “But her other senses are lethal. So be quick, and quiet. Find the object and run out, Feyre.” His hands lingered on my legs, wrapping around the back of them.

“And if she notices me?”

His hands tightened slightly. “Then we’ll learn precisely how skilled you are.”

Cruel, conniving bastard. I glared at him.

Rhys shrugged. “Would you rather I locked you in the House of Wind and stuffed you with food and made you wear fine clothes and plan my parties?”

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