Home > Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)(6)

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)(6)
Author: Sarah J. Maas

Spy and assassin indeed. A smile tugged on his lips at the pale green eyes heavy-lidded with pleasure. That’d be a fine sight for the lords to see when they arrived.

The shape-shifter had used these weeks of travel to try out new forms: birds, beasts, insects that had a tendency to buzz in his ear or bite him. Rarely—so rarely—had Lysandra taken the human form he’d met her in. Given all that had been done to her and all she’d been forced to do in that human body, Aedion didn’t blame her.

Though she’d have to take human form soon, when she was introduced as a lady in Aelin’s court. He wondered if she’d wear that exquisite face, or find another human skin that suited her.

More than that, he often wondered what it felt like to be able to change bone and skin and color—though he hadn’t asked. Mostly because Lysandra hadn’t been in human form long enough to do so.

Aedion looked to Aelin, seated across the fire with Fleetfoot sprawled in her lap, playing with the hound’s long ears—waiting, as they all were. His cousin, however, was studying the ancient blade—her father’s blade—that Aedion so unceremoniously twirled and tossed from hand to hand, every inch of the metal hilt and cracked bone pommel as familiar to him as his own face. Sorrow flickered in her eyes, as fast as the lightning above, and then vanished.

She’d returned the sword to him upon their departure from Rifthold, choosing to bear Goldryn instead. He’d tried to convince her to keep Terrasen’s sacred blade, but she’d insisted it was better off in his hands, that he deserved the honor more than anyone else, including her.

She’d grown quieter the farther north they’d traveled. Perhaps weeks on the road had sapped her.

After tonight, depending on what the lords reported, he’d try to find her a quiet place to rest for a day or two before they made the last leg of the trek to Orynth.

Aedion uncoiled to his feet, sheathing the sword beside the knife Rowan had gifted him, and stalked to her. Fleetfoot’s feathery tail thumped in greeting as he sat beside his queen.

“You could use a haircut,” she said. Indeed, his hair had grown longer than he usually kept it. “It’s almost the same length as mine.” She frowned. “It makes us look like we coordinated it.”

Aedion snorted, stroking the dog’s head. “So what if we did?”

Aelin shrugged. “If you want to start wearing matching outfits as well, I’m in.”

He grinned. “The Bane would never let me live it down.”

His legion now camped just outside of Orynth, where he’d ordered them to shore up the city’s defenses and wait. Wait to kill and die for her.

And with the money Aelin had schemed and butchered to claim from her former master this spring, they could buy themselves an army to follow behind the Bane. Perhaps mercenaries, too.

The spark in Aelin’s eyes died a bit as if she, too, considered all that commanding his legion implied. The risks and costs—not of gold, but lives. Aedion could have sworn the campfire guttered as well.

She had slaughtered and fought and nearly died again and again for the past ten years. Yet he knew she would balk at sending soldiers—at sending him—to fight.

That, above all else, would be her first test as queen.

But before that … this meeting. “You remember everything I told you about them?”

Aelin gave him a flat look. “Yes, I remember everything, cousin.” She poked him hard in the ribs, right where the still-healing tattoo Rowan had inked on him three days ago now lay. All their names, entwined in a complex Terrasen knot right near his heart. Aedion winced as she jabbed the sore flesh, and he batted away her hand as she recited, “Murtaugh was a farmer’s son, but married Ren’s grandmother. Though he wasn’t born into the Allsbrook line, he still commands the seat, despite his insistence that Ren take up the title.” She looked skyward. “Darrow is the wealthiest landowner after yours truly, and more than that, he holds sway over the few surviving lords, mostly through his years of carefully handling Adarlan during the occupation.” She gave him a glare sharp enough to slice skin.

Aedion lifted his hands. “Can you blame me for wanting to make sure this goes smoothly?”

She shrugged but didn’t bite his head off.

“Darrow was your uncle’s lover,” he added, stretching his legs out before him. “For decades. He’s never spoken once to me about your uncle, but … they were very close, Aelin. Darrow didn’t publicly mourn Orlon beyond what was required after the passing of a king, but he became a different man afterward. He’s a hard bastard now, but still a fair one. Much of what he’s done has been out of his unfading love for Orlon—and for Terrasen. His own maneuvering kept us from becoming completely starved and destitute. Remember that.” Indeed, Darrow had long straddled a line between serving the King of Adarlan and undermining him.

“I. Know,” she said tightly. Pushing too far—that tone was likely her first and last warning that he was starting to piss her off. He’d spent many of the miles they’d traveled these past few days telling her about Ren, and Murtaugh, and Darrow. Aedion knew she could likely now recite their land holdings, what crops and livestock and goods they yielded, their ancestors, and dead and surviving family members from this past decade. But pushing her about it one last time, making sure she knew … He couldn’t shut the instincts down to ensure it all went well. Not when so much was at stake.

From where he’d been perched on a high branch to monitor the forest, Rowan clicked his beak and flapped into the rain, sailing through his shield as if it parted for him.

Aedion eased to his feet, scanning the forest, listening. Only the trickle of rain on leaves filled his ears. Lysandra stretched, baring her long teeth as she did so, her needlelike claws slipping free and glinting in the firelight.

Until Rowan gave the all clear—until it was just those lords and no one else—the safety protocols they’d established would hold.

Evangeline, as they had taught her, crept to the fire. The flames pulled apart like drawn curtains to allow her and Fleetfoot, sensing the child’s fear and pressing close, passage to an inner ring that would not burn her. But would melt the bones of their enemies.

Aelin merely glanced at Aedion in silent order, and he stepped toward the western side of the fire, Lysandra taking up a spot at the southern point. Aelin took the northern but gazed west—toward where Rowan had flapped away.

A dry, hot breeze flowed through their little bubble, and sparks danced like fireflies at Aelin’s fingers, her hand hanging casually at her side. The other gripped Goldryn, the ruby in its hilt bright as an ember.

Leaves rustled and branches snapped, and the Sword of Orynth gleamed gold and red in the light of Aelin’s flames as he drew it free. He angled the ancient dagger Rowan had gifted him in his other hand. Rowan had been teaching Aedion—teaching all of them, really—about the Old Ways these weeks. About the long-forgotten traditions and codes of the Fae, mostly abandoned even in Maeve’s court. But reborn here, and enacted now, as they fell into the roles and duties that they had sorted out and decided for themselves.

Rowan emerged from the rain in his Fae form, his silver hair plastered to his head, his tattoo stark on his tan face. No sign of the lords.

But Rowan held his hunting knife against the bared throat of a young, slender-nosed man and escorted him toward the fire—the stranger’s travel-stained, soaked clothes bearing Darrow’s crest of a striking badger.

“A messenger,” Rowan ground out.

Aelin decided right then and there she didn’t particularly enjoy surprises.

The messenger’s blue eyes were wide, but his rain-slick, freckled face was calm. Steady. Even as he took in Lysandra, her fangs gilded with firelight. Even as Rowan nudged him forward, that cruel knife still angled at his throat.

Aedion jerked his chin at Rowan. “He can’t very well deliver the message with a blade at his windpipe.”

Rowan lowered his weapon, but the Fae Prince didn’t sheathe his knife. Didn’t move more than a foot from the man.

Aedion demanded, “Where are they?”

The man bowed swiftly to her cousin. “At a tavern, four miles from here, General—”

Hot Series
» Vampire Academy Series read online
» Crossfire Series read online
» Fifty Shades trilogy read online
» Kate Daniels Series read online
» Black Dagger Brotherhood Series read online
» Cassandra Palmer Series read online
» Rosemary Beach Series read online
» Sea Breeze Series read online
» Too Far Series read online
» Shatter Me Series read online
» Thoughtless Series read online
» Marriage to a Billionaire Series read online
Most Popular
» Drawn into Love (Fluke My Life #4)
» Nightchaser (Endeavor #1)
» Right Where I Want You
» Tangled Like Us (Like Us #4)
» Be the Girl
» Playing for Keeps (Heartbreaker Bay #7)
» If I Only Knew
» Vengeance Road (Torpedo Ink #2)
» 99 Percent Mine
» Free (Chaos #6)
» Work in Progress (Red Lipstick Coalition #3
» Moonlight Scandals (de Vincent #3)