A Court of Mist and Fury Page 83

I groaned as I got to my feet, sand falling everywhere, and offered a hand to Amren to rise. Her grip was firm, but her quicksilver eyes were surprisingly tender as she squeezed it before snapping her fingers.

We were both instantly clean and warm, our clothes dry. Save for a wet patch around my breast—where that box waited.

My companions were solemn-faced as I approached and reached inside that pocket. The metal bit into my fingers, so cold it burned.

I dropped it onto the table.

It thudded, and they all recoiled, swearing.

Rhys crooked a finger at me. “One last task, Feyre. Unlock it, please.”

My knees were buckling—my head spinning and mouth bone-dry and full of salt and grit, but … I wanted to be rid of it.

So I slid into a chair, tugging that hateful box to me, and placed a hand on top.

Hello, liar, it purred.

“Hello,” I said softly.

Will you read me?

“No.”

The others didn’t say a word—though I felt their confusion shimmering in the room. Only Rhys and Amren watched me closely.

Open, I said silently.

Say please.

“Please,” I said.

The box—the Book—was silent. Then it said, Like calls to like.

“Open,” I gritted out.

Unmade and Made; Made and Unmade—that is the cycle. Like calls to like.

I pushed my hand harder, so tired I didn’t care about the thoughts tumbling out, the bits and pieces that were a part of and not part of me: heat and water and ice and light and shadow.

Cursebreaker, it called to me, and the box clicked open.

I sagged back in my chair, grateful for the roaring fire in the nearby fireplace.

Cassian’s hazel eyes were dark. “I never want to hear that voice again.”

“Well, you will,” Rhysand said blandly, lifting the lid. “Because you’re coming with us to see those mortal queens as soon as they deign to visit.”

I was too tired to think about that—about what we had left to do. I peered into the box.

It was not a book—not with paper and leather.

It had been formed of dark metal plates bound on three rings of gold, silver, and bronze, each word carved with painstaking precision, in an alphabet I could not recognize. Yes, it indeed turned out my reading lessons were unnecessary.

Rhys left it inside the box as we all peered in—then recoiled.

Only Amren remained staring at it. The blood drained from her face entirely.

“What language is that?” Mor asked.

I thought Amren’s hands might have been shaking, but she shoved them into her pockets. “It is no language of this world.”

Only Rhys was unfazed by the shock on her face. As if he’d suspected what the language might be. Why he had picked her to be a part of this hunt.

“What is it, then?” Azriel asked.

She stared and stared at the Book—as if it were a ghost, as if it were a miracle—and said, “It is the Leshon Hakodesh. The Holy Tongue.” Those quicksilver eyes shifted to Rhysand, and I realized she’d understood, too, why she’d gone.

Rhysand said, “I heard a legend that it was written in a tongue of mighty beings who feared the Cauldron’s power and made the Book to combat it. Mighty beings who were here … and then vanished. You are the only one who can uncode it.”

It was Mor who warned, “Don’t play those sorts of games, Rhysand.”

But he shook his head. “Not a game. It was a gamble that Amren would be able to read it—and a lucky one.”

Amren’s nostrils flared delicately, and for a moment, I wondered if she might throttle him for not telling her his suspicions, that the Book might indeed be more than the key to our own salvation.

Rhys smiled at her in a way that said he’d be willing to let her try.

Even Cassian slid a hand toward his fighting knife.

But then Rhysand said, “I thought, too, that the Book might also contain the spell to free you—and send you home. If they were the ones who wrote it in the first place.”

Amren’s throat bobbed—slightly.

Cassian said, “Shit.”

Rhys went on, “I did not tell you my suspicions, because I did not want to get your hopes up. But if the legends about the language were indeed right … Perhaps you might find what you’ve been looking for, Amren.”

“I need the other piece before I can begin decoding it.” Her voice was raw.

“Hopefully our request to the mortal queens will be answered soon,” he said, frowning at the sand and water staining the foyer. “And hopefully the next encounter will go better than this one.”

Her mouth tightened, yet her eyes were blazing bright. “Thank you.”

Ten thousand years in exile—alone.

Mor sighed—a loud, dramatic sound no doubt meant to break the heavy silence—and complained about wanting the full story of what happened.

But Azriel said, “Even if the book can nullify the Cauldron … there’s Jurian to contend with.”

We all looked at him. “That’s the piece that doesn’t fit,” Azriel clarified, tapping a scarred finger on the table. “Why resurrect him in the first place? And how does the king keep him bound? What does the king have over Jurian to keep him loyal?”

“I’d considered that,” Rhys said, taking a seat across from me at the table, right between his two brothers. Of course he had considered it. Rhys shrugged. “Jurian was … obsessive in his pursuits of things. He died with many of those goals left unfinished.”

Mor’s face paled a bit. “If he suspects Miryam is alive—”

“Odds are, Jurian believes Miryam is gone,” Rhys said. “And who better to raise his former lover than a king with a Cauldron able to resurrect the dead?”

“Would Jurian ally with Hybern just because he thinks Miryam is dead and wants her back?” Cassian said, bracing his arms on the table.

“He’d do it to get revenge on Drakon for winning her heart,” Rhys said. He shook his head. “We’ll discuss this later.” And I made a note to ask him who these people were, what their history was—to ask Rhys why he’d never hinted Under the Mountain that he knew the man behind the eye on Amarantha’s ring. After I’d had a bath. And water. And a nap.

But they all looked to me and Amren again—still waiting for the story. Brushing a few grains of sand off, I let Amren launch into the tale, each word more unbelievable than the last.

Across the table, I lifted my gaze from my clothes and found Rhys’s eyes already on me.

I inclined my head slightly, and lowered my shield only long enough to say down the bond: To the dreams that are answered.

A heartbeat later, a sensual caress trailed along my mental shields—a polite request. I let it drop, let him in, and his voice filled my head. To the huntresses who remember to reach back for those less fortunate—and water-wraiths who swim very, very fast.

CHAPTER

38

Amren took the Book to wherever it was she lived in Velaris, leaving the five of us to eat. While Rhys told them of our visit to the Summer Court, I managed to scarf down breakfast before the exhaustion of staying up all night, unlocking those doors, and very nearly dying hit me. When I awoke, the house was empty, the afternoon sunlight warm and golden, and the day so unusually warm and lovely that I brought a book down to the small garden in the back.

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