A Court of Mist and Fury Page 53

“You kill her?” Cassian said.

“No,” Rhys answered for me, loosely folding his wings. “But given how much the Weaver was screaming, I’m dying to know what Feyre darling did.”

Grease—I had the grease and hair of people on me—

I vomited all over the floor.

Cassian swore, but Amren waved a hand and it was instantly gone—along with the mess on me. But I could feel the ghost of it there, the remnants of people, the mortar of those bricks …

“She … detected me somehow,” I managed to say, slumping against the large black table and wiping my mouth against the shoulder of my leathers. “And locked the doors and windows. So I had to climb out through the chimney. I got stuck,” I added as Cassian’s brows rose, “and when she tried to climb up, I threw a brick at her face.”

Silence.

Amren looked to Rhysand. “And where were you?”

“Waiting, far enough away that she couldn’t detect me.”

I snarled at him, “I could have used some help.”

“You survived,” he said. “And found a way to help yourself.” From the hard glimmer in his eye, I knew he was aware of the panic that had almost gotten me killed, either through mental shields I’d forgotten to raise or whatever anomaly in our bond. He’d been aware of it—and let me endure it.

Because it had almost gotten me killed, and I’d be no use to him if it happened when it mattered—with the Book. Exactly like he’d said.

“That’s what this was also about,” I spat. “Not just this stupid ring,” I reached into my pocket, slamming the ring down on the table, “or my abilities, but if I can master my panic.”

Cassian swore again, his eyes on that ring.

Amren shook her head, sheet of dark hair swaying. “Brutal, but effective.”

Rhys only said, “Now you know. That you can use your abilities to hunt our objects, and thus track the Book at the Summer Court, and master yourself.”

“You’re a prick, Rhysand,” Cassian said quietly.

Rhys merely tucked his wings in with a graceful snap. “You’d do the same.”

Cassian shrugged, as if to say fine, he would.

I looked at my hands, my nails bloody and cracked. And I said to Cassian, “I want you to teach me—how to fight. To get strong. If the offer to train still stands.”

Cassian’s brows rose, and he didn’t bother looking to Rhys for approval. “You’ll be calling me a prick pretty damn fast if we train. And I don’t know anything about training humans—how breakable your bodies are. Were, I mean,” he added with a wince. “We’ll figure it out.”

“I don’t want my only option to be running,” I said.

“Running,” Amren cut in, “kept you alive today.”

I ignored her. “I want to know how to fight my way out. I don’t want to have to wait on anyone to rescue me.” I faced Rhys, crossing my arms. “Well? Have I proved myself?”

But he merely picked up the ring and gave me a nod of thanks. “It was my mother’s ring.” As if that were all the explanation and answers owed.

“How’d you lose it?” I demanded.

“I didn’t. My mother gave it to me as a keepsake, then took it back when I reached maturity—and gave it to the Weaver for safekeeping.”

“Why?”

“So I wouldn’t waste it.”

Nonsense and idiocy and—I wanted a bath. I wanted quiet and a bath. The need for those things hit me strong enough that my knees buckled.

I’d barely looked at Rhys before he grabbed my hand, flared his wings, and had us soaring back through the windows. We free-fell for five thunderous, wild heartbeats before he winnowed to my bedroom in the town house. A hot bath was already running. I staggered to it, exhaustion hitting me like a physical blow, when Rhys said, “And what about training your other … gifts?”

Through the rising steam from the tub, I said, “I think you and I would shred each other to bits.”

“Oh, we most definitely will.” He leaned against the bathing room threshold. “But it wouldn’t be fun otherwise. Consider our training now officially part of your work requirements with me.” A jerk of the chin. “Go ahead—try to get past my shields.”

I knew which ones he was talking about. “I’m tired. The bath will go cold.”

“I promise it’ll be just as hot in a few moments. Or, if you mastered your gifts, you might be able to take care of that yourself.”

I frowned. But took a step toward him, then another—making him yield a step, two, into the bedroom. The phantom grease and hair clung to me, reminded me what he’d done—

I held his stare, those violet eyes twinkling.

“You feel it, don’t you,” he said over the burbling and chittering garden birds. “Your power, stalking under your skin, purring in your ear.”

“So what if I do?”

A shrug. “I’m surprised Ianthe didn’t carve you up on an altar to see what that power looks like inside you.”

“What, precisely, is your issue with her?”

“I find the High Priestesses to be a perversion of what they once were—once promised to be. Ianthe among the worst of them.”

A knot twisted in my stomach. “Why do you say that?”

“Get past my shields and I’ll show you.”

So that explained the turn in conversation. A taunt. Bait.

Holding his stare … I let myself fall for it. I let myself imagine that line between us—a bit of braided light … And there was his mental shield at the other end of the bond. Black and solid and impenetrable. No way in. However I’d slipped through before … I had no idea. “I’ve had enough tests for the day.”

Rhys crossed the two feet between us. “The High Priestesses have burrowed into a few of the courts—Dawn, Day, and Winter, mostly. They’ve entrenched themselves so thoroughly that their spies are everywhere, their followers near-fanatic with devotion. And yet, during those fifty years, they escaped. They remained hidden. I would not be surprised if Ianthe sought to establish a foothold in the Spring Court.”

“You mean to tell me they’re all black-hearted villains?”

“No. Some, yes. Some are compassionate and selfless and wise. But there are some who are merely self-righteous … Though those are the ones that always seem the most dangerous to me.”

“And Ianthe?”

A knowing sparkle in his eyes.

He really wouldn’t tell me. He’d dangle it before me like a piece of meat—

I lunged. Blindly, wildly, but I sent my power lashing down that line between us.

And yelped as it slammed against his inner shields, the reverberations echoing in me as surely as if I’d hit something with my body.

Rhys chuckled, and I saw fire. “Admirable—sloppy, but an admirable effort.”

Panting a bit, I seethed.

But he said, “Just for trying … ,” and took my hand in his. The bond went taut, that thing under my skin pulsing, and—

There was dark, and the colossal sense of him on the other side of his mental barricade of black adamant. That shield went on forever, the product of half a millennia of being hunted, attacked, hated. I brushed a mental hand against that wall.

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