Home > Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6)(14)

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6)(14)
Author: Sarah J. Maas

Chaol knew he should be kind, should beseech her to help him, and yet—

“After a drink or two, I think,” Yrene only said. Then looked over her shoulder to a bemused Nesryn. “Sorry,” she added—and sounded only slightly less sharp-tongued.

“Why are you apologizing to her?”

“I assume she has the misfortune of sharing your bed these days.”

It took his self-restraint to keep from going for her shoulders and shaking her soundly. “Have I done something to you?”

That seemed to give her pause. Yrene only yanked off his socks, throwing them atop where he’d discarded his boots. “No.”

A lie. He scented and tasted it.

But it focused her, and Chaol watched as Yrene picked up his foot in her slim hands. Watched, since he didn’t feel it—beyond the shift in his abdominal muscles. He couldn’t tell if she was squeezing or holding lightly, if her nails were digging in; not without looking. So he did.

A ring adorned her fourth finger—a wedding band. “Is your husband from here?” Or wife, he supposed.

“I’m not—” She blinked, frowning at the ring. She didn’t finish the sentence.

Not married, then. The silver ring was simple, the garnet no more than a droplet. Likely worn to keep men from bothering her, as he’d seen many women do in the streets of Rifthold.

“Can you feel this?” Yrene asked. She was touching each toe.

“No.”

She did it on the other foot. “And this?”

“No.”

He’d been through such examinations before—at the castle, and with Rowan.

“His initial injury,” Nesryn cut in, as if remembering the prince as well, “was to the entire spine. A friend had some knowledge of healing and patched him up as best he could. He regained movement in his upper body, but not below the hips.”

“How was it attained—the injury?”

Her hands were moving over his foot and ankle, tapping and testing. As if she’d indeed done this before, as Princess Hasar had claimed.

Chaol didn’t immediately reply, sorting through those moments of terror and pain and rage.

Nesryn opened her mouth, but he cut her off. “Fighting. I received a blow to my back while fighting. A magical one.”

Yrene’s fingers were inching up his legs, patting and squeezing. He felt none of it. Her brows bunched in concentration. “Your friend must have been a gifted healer if you regained so much motion.”

“He did what he could. Then told me to come here.”

Her hands pushed and pressed on his thighs, and he watched with no small amount of growing horror as she slid them higher and higher. He was about to demand if she planned to ascertain for herself about the life in his manhood, but Yrene lifted her head and met his stare.

This close, her eyes were a golden flame. Not like the cold metal of Manon Blackbeak’s, not laced with a century of violence and predator’s instincts, but … like a long-burning flame on a winter’s night. “I need to see your back,” was all Yrene said. Then she peeled away. “Lie down on the nearest bed.”

Before Chaol could remind her that it wasn’t quite so easy to do that, Nesryn was instantly in motion, wheeling him into his room. Kadja had already made his bed, and left a bouquet of orange lilies on the table beside it. Yrene sniffed at the scent—as if it was unpleasant. He refrained from asking.

He waved off Nesryn when she tried to help him onto the bed. It was low enough that he could manage.

Yrene lingered in the doorway, observing while he braced one hand on the mattress, one on the arm of the chair, and in a powerful push, heaved himself into a sitting position on the bed. He unbuckled each of those newly polished buttons on his jacket, then peeled it off. Along with the white shirt beneath.

“Facedown, I assume?”

Yrene gave him a curt nod.

Gripping his knees, abdomen clenching, he pulled his legs onto the mattress as he lay flat on his back.

For a few heartbeats, spasms shook his legs. Not real, controlled motion, he’d realized after the first time it had happened weeks ago. He could still feel that crushing weight in his chest after he’d understood it was some effect of the injury—that it usually happened if he moved himself about a great deal.

“Spasms in the legs are common with such an injury,” Yrene supplied, observing them fade away into stillness once again. “These may calm with time.” She waved a hand to him in silent reminder to turn over onto his belly.

Chaol said nothing as he sat up to fold one ankle over the other, lay down again on his back, and then twisted over, his legs following suit.

Whether she was impressed that he’d picked up on the maneuverings so quickly, she didn’t let on. Didn’t even lift a brow.

Folding his hands under his chin, he peered over his shoulder and watched her approach, watched her motion Nesryn to sit when the woman began pacing again.

He scanned Yrene for any sort of flickering magic. What it’d look like, he had not the faintest inkling. Dorian’s had been ice and wind and flashing light; Aelin’s had been raging, singing flame, but healing magic … Was it something external, something tangible? Or something only his bones and blood might witness?

He’d once balked at those sorts of questions—might once have even balked at the idea of letting magic touch him. But the man who had done those things, feared those things … He was glad to leave him in the shattered ruin of the glass castle.

Yrene stood over him for a moment, surveying his back.

Her hands were as warm as the morning sun when she laid them palm-down on the skin between his shoulder blades. “You were hit here,” she observed quietly.

There was a mark. A faint, splattering paleness to his skin where the king’s blow had hit. Dorian had shown him using a trick with two hand-mirrors before he’d left.

“Yes.”

Her hands trailed along the groove of his spine. “It rippled down here, shredding and severing.” The words were not for him—but as if she were speaking to herself, lost in some trance.

He fought against the memory of that pain, the numbness and oblivion it summoned.

“You can—tell that?” Nesryn asked.

“My gift tells me.” Yrene’s hand stalled along the middle of his back, pushing and prodding. “It was terrible power—what struck you.”

“Yes,” was all he said.

Her hands went lower, lower, until they shoved down the waist of his pants a few inches. He hissed through his teeth and glared over his bare shoulder. “A little warning.”

Yrene ignored him and touched the lowest part of his back. He did not feel it.

She spider-walked her fingers up his spine as if counting the vertebrae. “Here?”

“I can feel you.”

She backtracked one step. “Here?”

“Nothing.”

Her face bunched, as if making a mental note of the location. She began on the outer edges of his back, creeping up, asking where he stopped feeling it. She took his neck and head in her hands, turning it this way and that, testing and assessing.

Finally, she ordered him to move. Not to rise, but to turn over again.

Chaol stared up at the arched, painted ceiling as Yrene poked and prodded his pectorals, the muscles of his abdomen, those along his ribs. She reached the vee of muscles leading beneath his pants, kept moving lower, and he demanded, “Really?”

Yrene shot him an incredulous look. “Is there something you’re particularly embarrassed for me to see?”

Oh, she certainly had some fight in her, this Yrene Towers from Fenharrow. Chaol held her stare, the challenge in it.

Yrene only snorted. “I had forgotten that men from the northern continent are so proper and guarded.”

“And here they are not?”

“No. Bodies are celebrated, not shamed into hiding. Men and women both.”

That would explain the servant who had no qualms about such things.

“They seemed plenty dressed at dinner.”

“Wait until the parties,” Yrene countered coolly. But she lifted her hands from the already-low waist of his pants. “If you have not noticed any problems externally or internally with your manhood, then I don’t need to look.”

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