Home > Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)(8)

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)(8)
Author: Sarah J. Maas

No sign of the duke. The stranger twisted toward them. Even her grandmother gave pause.

Not at the man’s beauty, not at the strength in his sculpted body or the fine black clothes he wore. But at those gold eyes. Twin to Manon’s.

The eyes of the Valg kings.

Manon assessed the exits, the windows, the weapons she would use when they fought their way out. Instinct had her stepping in front of her grandmother; training had her palming two knives before the golden-eyed man could blink.

But the man fixed those Valg eyes on her. He smiled.

“Wing Leader.” He looked to her grandmother and inclined his head. “Matron.”

The voice was carnal and lovely and cruel. But the tone, the demand in it …

Something in Vernon’s smirk now seemed too strained, his tan skin too pale.

“Who are you,” Manon said to the stranger, more an order than a question.

The man jerked his chin toward the unclaimed seats at the table. “You know perfectly well who I am, Manon Blackbeak.”

Perrington. In another body, somehow. Because…

Because that otherworldly, foul thing she had sometimes glimpsed staring out through his eyes … Here it was, given flesh.

The Matron’s tight face told her she’d already guessed.

“I grew tired of wearing that sagging meat,” he said, sliding with feline grace into the chair beside Vernon. A wave of long, powerful fingers. “My enemies know who I am. My allies might as well, too.”

Vernon bowed his head and murmured, “My Lord Erawan, if it would please you, allow me to fetch the Matron refreshments. Her journey has been long.”

Manon assessed the tall, reedy man. Two gifts he had offered them: respect to her grandmother, and the knowledge of the duke’s true name. Erawan.

She wondered what Ghislaine, on guard in the hall beyond, knew of him.

The Valg king nodded his approval. The Lord of Perranth hustled to the small buffet table against the wall, grabbing a ewer as Manon and the Matron slid into the seats across from the demon king.

Respect—something Vernon had not once offered without a mocking grin. But now…

Perhaps now that the Lord of Perranth realized what manner of monster held his leash, he was desperate for allies. Knew, perhaps, that Manon … that Manon might have indeed been part of that explosion.

Manon accepted the carved-horn cups of water Vernon set before them but did not drink. Neither did her grandmother.

Across the table, Erawan smiled faintly. No darkness, no corruption leaked from him—as if he were powerful enough to keep it contained, unnoticed, save for those eyes. Her eyes.

Behind them, the rest of the Thirteen and her grandmother’s coven remained in the hall, only their Seconds lingering in the room as the doors were sealed again.

Trapping them all with the Valg king.

“So,” Erawan said, looking them over in a way that had Manon clamping her lips to keep from baring her teeth, “are the forces at the Ferian Gap prepared?”

Her grandmother yielded a short dip of her chin. “They move at sundown. They’ll be in Rifthold two days after that.”

Manon didn’t dare shift in her seat. “You’re sending the host to Rifthold?”

The demon king flashed her a narrowed glance. “I am sending you to Rifthold, to take back my city. When you have finished your task, the Ferian legion will be stationed there under the command of Iskra Yellowlegs.”

To Rifthold. To finally, finally fight, to see what their wyverns could do in battle— “Do they suspect the attack?”

A lifeless smile. “Our forces will move too swiftly for word to reach them.” No doubt why this information had been contained until now.

Manon tapped a foot on the slate floor, already itching to move, to command the others in preparations. “How many of the Morath covens do I bring northward?”

“Iskra flies with the second half of our aerial legion. I would think that only a few covens from Morath would be necessary.” A challenge—and a test.

Manon considered. “I fly with my Thirteen and two escort covens.” No need for their enemies to get a good count on how many covens flew in the aerial legion—or for the entirety to go when she’d bet good money that even the Thirteen would be enough to sack the capital.

Erawan just inclined his head in agreement. Her grandmother gave her a barely perceptible nod—as close to approval as she’d ever get.

But Manon asked, “What of the prince?” King. King Dorian.

Her grandmother shot her a look, but the demon said, “I want you to personally bring him to me. If he survives the attack.”

And with the fiery queen now gone, Dorian Havilliard and his city were defenseless.

It mattered little to her. It was war.

Fight this war, and go home to the Wastes at the end of it. Even if this man, this demon king, might very well renege on his word.

She’d deal with that later. But first … open battle. She could already hear its wild song in her blood.

The demon king and her grandmother were speaking again, and Manon cleared away the melody of clashing shields and sparking swords long enough to process their words.

“Once the capital is secured, I want those boats on the Avery.”

“The men of the Silver Lake have agreed?” Her grandmother studied the map weighted to the glass table by smooth stones. Manon followed the Matron’s stare to the Silver Lake, at the other end of the Avery, and to its city, nestled against the White Fangs: Anielle.

Perrington—Erawan—shrugged his broad shoulders. “Its lord has not yet declared allegiance to me or the boy-king. I suspect when word reaches him of Rifthold’s demise, we will find his messengers groveling on our doorstep.” A flicker of a smile. “Their Keep along the Western Falls of the lake still bears scars from the last time my armies marched. I have seen the countless monuments in Anielle to that war—its lord will know how easily I can again turn his city into a charnel house.”

Manon studied the map again, shutting out the questions.

Old. The Valg king was so old as to make her feel young. To make her grandmother look like a child, too.

Fool—perhaps her grandmother had been a fool to sell them into an unwitting alliance with this creature. She made herself meet Erawan’s stare. “With strongholds in Morath, Rifthold, and Anielle, that only covers the southern half of Adarlan. What of north of the Ferian Gap? Or south of Adarlan?”

“Bellhaven remains under my control—its lords and merchants love their gold too much. Melisande…” The demon king’s golden eyes fixed on the western country across the mountains. “Eyllwe lies shattered beneath her, Fenharrow in barren shambles to the east. It remains in Melisande’s best interest to continue allying her forces with my own, especially when Terrasen hasn’t a copper to its name.” The king’s stare roamed northward. “Aelin Galathynius will have reached her seat by now. And when Rifthold is gone, she will also find how very alone she is in the North. Brannon’s heir has no allies on this continent. Not anymore.”

But Manon noted the way the demon king’s eyes darted to Eyllwe—just for a flicker.

She looked to her grandmother, silent yet watching Manon with an expression that promised death if she pushed too far. But Manon said to Erawan, “Your capital is the heart of your commerce. If I unleash my legion upon it, you will have few human allies—”

“Last I looked, Manon Blackbeak, it was my legion.”

Manon held Erawan’s burning gaze, even as it stripped her bare. “Turn Rifthold into a complete ruin,” she said flatly, “and rulers like the Lord of Anielle or the Queen of Melisande or the Lords of Fenharrow might very well find it worth the risk to rally against you. If you wreck your own capital, why should they believe your claims of alliance? Send a decree ahead of us that the king, the queen are enemies to the continent. Establish us as liberators of Rifthold, not conquerors, and you will have the other rulers thinking twice before allying with Terrasen. I will sack the city for you enough to display our might—but keep the Ironteeth host from leaving it in rubble.”

Those gold eyes narrowed with consideration.

She knew her grandmother was one more word away from gouging her nails down Manon’s cheek, but she kept her shoulders back. She didn’t care about the city, its people. But this war could indeed turn against them if the annihilation of Rifthold united their scattered enemies. And delay the Blackbeaks that much more from returning to the Wastes.

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)