Queen of Shadows Chapter 11 Read Online

Full Read the Online Chapter 11 of Queen of Shadows novel PDF by Sarah J. Maas for free.

Chapter 11 Part 1 Lady of Shadows of Queen of Shadows:  The Shadow Market had operated along the banks of the Avery for as long as Rifthold had existed. Maybe longer. Legend claimed it had been built on the bones of the god of truth so that it would keep the vendors and would-be thieves honest. Chaol supposed it was ironic, considering there was no god of truth. As far as he knew. Contraband, illicit substances, spices, clothes, flesh: the market catered to any and all clientele, if they were brave or foolish or desperate enough to venture inside.

When he’d first come here weeks ago, Chaol had been all of those things as he climbed down the half-rotted wooden stairs from a crumbling section of the docks into the embankment itself, where alcoves and tunnels and shops were tunneled into the riverbank.

Cloaked, armed figures patrolled the long, broad quay that served as the only path to the market. During rainy periods, the Avery would often rise high enough to flood the quay, and sometimes unlucky merchants and shoppers drowned inside the labyrinth of the Shadow Market. During drier months, you never knew what or who you might find selling their wares or meandering through the dirty, damp tunnels.

The market was packed tonight, even after a day of rain. A small relief. And another small relief as thunder reverberated through the subterranean warren, setting everyone murmuring. The vendors and lowlifes would be too busy preparing for the storm to take notice of Chaol and Nesryn as they strode down one of the main passageways.

The thunder rattled the hanging lanterns of colored glass—strangely beautiful, as if someone had once been determined to give this place some loveliness—that served as the main lights in the brown caverns, casting plenty of those shadows the market was so notorious for. Shadows for dark dealings, shadows to slip a knife between the ribs or to spirit someone away.

Or for conspirators to meet.

No one had bothered them as they’d slipped through one of the rough holes that served as an entrance to the Shadow Market’s tunnels. They connected to the sewers somewhere—and he would bet that the more established vendors possessed their own secret exits beneath their stalls or shops. Vendor after vendor had set up stalls of wood or stone, with some wares displayed on tables or crates or in baskets, but most valuable goods hidden. A spice dealer offered everything from saffron to cinnamon—but even the most fragrant spices couldn’t conceal the cloyingly sweet stench of the opium stashed beneath his displays.

Once, long ago, Chaol might have cared about the illegal substances, about the vendors selling whatever they pleased. He might have bothered to try to shut this place down.

Now, they were nothing but resources. As a city guard, Nesryn probably felt the same way. Even if, just by being in here, she was jeopardizing her own safety. This was a neutral zone—but its denizens didn’t take kindly to authority.

He didn’t blame them. The Shadow Market had been one of the first places the King of Adarlan had purged after magic vanished, seeking out vendors who claimed to have banned books or still-working charms and potions, as well as magic-wielders desperate for a cure or a glimmer of magic. The punishments hadn’t been pretty.

Chaol almost heaved a sigh of relief when he spotted the two cloaked figures with a spread of knives for sale at a makeshift stand tucked into a dark corner. Exactly where they’d planned, and they’d done a hell of a job making it look authentic.

Nesryn slowed her steps, pausing at various vendors, no more than a bored shopper killing time until the rain ceased. Chaol kept close to her, his weapons and prowling gait enough to deter any foolish pickpockets from

trying their luck. The punch he’d taken to his ribs earlier that night made maintaining his crawling pace and scowl all the easier.

He and a few others had interrupted a Valg commander in the midst of dragging a young man into the tunnels. And Chaol had been so damn distracted by Dorian, by what Aelin had said and done, that he’d been sloppy. So he’d earned that blow to the ribs, and the painful reminder of it each time he drew breath. No distractions; no slip-ups. Not when there was so much to do.

At last, Chaol and Nesryn paused by the little stall, staring down at the dozen knives and short swords displayed across the threadbare blanket.

“This place is even more depraved than the rumors suggested,” Brullo said from the shadows of his hood. “I feel like I should cover poor Ress’s eyes in half these chambers.”

Ress chuckled. “I’m nineteen, old man. Nothing here surprises me.” Ress glanced at Nesryn, who was fingering one of the curved blades. “Apologies, Lady—”

“I’m twenty-two,” she said flatly. “And I think we city guards see a great deal more than you palace princesses.”

What Chaol could see of Ress’s face flushed. He could have sworn even Brullo was smiling. And for a moment, he couldn’t breathe under the crushing weight that pushed in on him. There had been a time when this teasing was normal, when he’d sat in public with his men and laughed. When he hadn’t been two days away from unleashing hell on the castle that had once been his home.

“Any news?” he managed to say to Brullo, who was watching him too closely, as if his old mentor could see the agony ripping through him.

“We got the layout of the party this morning,” Brullo said tightly. Chaol picked up a blade as Brullo reached into the pocket of his cloak. He made a good show of examining the dagger, then holding up a few fingers as if haggling for it. Brullo went on, “The new Captain of the Guard spread us all out—none of us in the Great Hall itself.” The Weapons Master held up his own fingers, leaning forward, and Chaol shrugged, reaching into his cloak for the coins.

“You think he suspects anything?” Chaol said, handing over the coins. Nesryn closed in, blocking any outside view as Chaol’s hand met Brullo’s

and coppers crunched against paper. The small, folded maps were in Chaol’s pocket before anyone noticed.

“No,” Ress answered. “The bastard just wants to demean us. He probably thinks some of us are loyal to you, but we’d be dead if he suspected any of us in particular.”

“Be careful,” Chaol said.

He sensed Nesryn tensing a heartbeat before another female voice drawled, “Three coppers for a Xandrian blade. If I’d known there was a sale happening, I would have brought more money.”

Every muscle in Chaol’s body locked up as he discovered Aelin now standing at Nesryn’s side. Of course. Of course she’d tracked them here.

“Holy gods,” Ress breathed.

Beneath the shadows of her dark hood, Aelin’s grin was nothing short of wicked. “Hello, Ress. Brullo. Sorry to see your palace jobs aren’t paying you enough these days.”

The Weapons Master was glancing between her and the passageways. “You didn’t say she was back,” he said to Chaol.

Aelin clicked her tongue. “Chaol, it seems, likes to keep information to himself.”

He clenched his fists at his sides. “You’re drawing too much attention to us.”

“Am I?” Aelin lifted a dagger, weighing it in her hands with expert ease. “I need to talk to Brullo and my old friend Ress. Since you refused to let me come the other night, this was the only way.”

So typical of her. Nesryn had taken a casual step away, monitoring the carved tunnels. Or avoiding the queen.

Queen. The word struck him again. A queen of the realm was in the Shadow Market, in head-to-toe black, and looking more than happy to start slitting throats. He hadn’t been wrong to fear her reunion with Aedion— what they might do together. And if she had her magic …

“Take off your hood,” Brullo said quietly. Aelin looked up. “Why, and no.”

“I want to see your face.” Aelin went still.

But Nesryn turned back and leaned a hand on the table. “I saw her face last night, Brullo, and it’s as pretty as before. Don’t you have a wife to ogle,


Aelin snorted. “I think I rather like you, Nesryn Faliq.”

Nesryn gave Aelin a half smile. Practically beaming, coming from her.

Chaol wondered whether Aelin would like Nesryn if she knew about their history. Or whether the queen would even care.

Aelin tugged back her hood only far enough for the light to hit her face. She winked at Ress, who grinned. “I missed you, friend,” she said. Color stained Ress’s cheeks.

Brullo’s mouth tightened as Aelin looked at him again. For a moment, the Weapons Master studied her. Then he murmured, “I see.” The queen stiffened almost imperceptibly. Brullo bowed his head, ever so slightly. “You’re going to rescue Aedion.”

Aelin pulled her hood into place and inclined her head in confirmation, the swaggering assassin incarnate. “I am.”

Ress swore filthily under his breath.

Aelin leaned closer to Brullo. “I know I’m asking a great deal of you—” “Then don’t ask it,” Chaol snapped. “Don’t endanger them. They risk


“That’s not your call to make,” she said.

Like hell it wasn’t. “If they’re discovered, we lose our inside source of information. Not to mention their lives. What do you plan to do about Dorian? Or is it only Aedion you care about?”

They were all watching far too closely.

Her nostrils flared. But Brullo said, “What is it you require of us, Lady?” Oh, the Weapons Master definitely knew, then. He must have seen Aedion recently enough to have recognized those eyes, that face and coloring, the moment she pulled back her hood. Perhaps he had suspected it for months now. Aelin said softly, “Don’t let your men be stationed at the

southern wall of the gardens.”

Chaol blinked. Not a request or an order—but a warning.

Brullo’s voice was slightly hoarse as he said, “Anywhere else we should avoid?”

She was already backing away, shaking her head as if she were a disinterested buyer. “Just tell your men to pin a red flower on their uniforms. If anyone asks, say it’s to honor the prince on his birthday. But wear them where they can easily be seen.”

Chaol glanced at her hands. Her dark gloves were clean. How much blood would stain them in a few days? Ress loosed a breath and said to her, “Thank you.”

It wasn’t until she’d vanished into the crowd with a jaunty swagger that Chaol realized thanks were indeed in order.

Aelin Galathynius was about to turn the glass palace into a killing field, and Ress, Brullo, and his men had all been spared.

She still hadn’t said anything about Dorian. About whether he would be spared. Or saved.

Aelin had known she had eyes on her from the moment she’d left the Shadow Market after finishing some shopping of her own. She strode right into the Royal Bank of Adarlan anyway.

She had business to attend to, and though they’d been minutes away from closing for the day, the Master of the Bank had been more than happy to assist her with her inquiries. He never once questioned the fake name her accounts were under.

As the Master talked about her various accounts and the interest they’d gathered over the years, she took in the details of his office: thick, oak- paneled walls, pictures that had revealed no hidey-holes in the bare minute she’d had to snoop while he summoned his secretary to bring in tea, and ornate furniture that cost more than most citizens of Rifthold made in a lifetime, including a gorgeous mahogany armoire where many of his wealthiest clients’ files—including hers—were kept, locked up with a little gold key he kept on his desk.

She’d risen as he again scuttled through the double doors of his office to withdraw the sum of money she would take with her that night. While he was in the anteroom, giving the order to his secretary, Aelin had casually made her way over to his desk, surveying the papers stacked and strewn about, the various gifts from clients, keys, and a little portrait of a woman who could be either a wife or a daughter. With men like him, it was impossible to tell.

He’d returned just as she casually slid a hand into the pocket of her cloak. She made small talk about the weather until the secretary appeared, a little

box in hand. Dumping the contents into her coin purse with as much grace as she could muster, Aelin had thanked the secretary and the Master and breezed out of the office.

She took side streets and alleys, ignoring the stench of rotting flesh that even the rain couldn’t conceal. Two—she’d counted two butchering blocks in once-pleasant city squares.

The bodies left for the crows had been mere shadows against the pale stone walls where they’d been nailed.

Aelin wouldn’t risk capturing one of the Valg until after Aedion was saved—if she made it out alive—but that didn’t mean she couldn’t get a head start on it.

A chill fog had blanketed the world the night before, seeping in through every nook and cranny. Nestled under layers of quilts and down blankets, Aelin rolled over in bed and stretched a hand across the mattress, reaching lazily for the warm male body beside hers.

Cold, silken sheets slid against her fingers. She opened an eye.

This wasn’t Wendlyn. The luxurious bed bedecked in shades of cream and beige belonged to her apartment in Rifthold. And the other half of the bed was neatly made, its pillows and blankets undisturbed. Empty.

For a moment, she could see Rowan there—that harsh, unforgiving face softened into handsomeness by sleep, his silver hair glimmering in the morning light, so stark against the tattoo stretching from his left temple down his neck, over his shoulder, all the way to his fingertips.

Aelin loosed a tight breath, rubbing her eyes. Dreaming was bad enough. She would not waste energy missing him, wishing he were here to talk everything through, or to just have the comfort of waking up beside him and knowing he existed.

Leaning off the bed, she swallowed hard, her body feeling too full.

She had told herself once that it wasn’t a weakness to need Rowan’s help, to wanthis help, and that perhaps there was a kind of strength in acknowledging that, but … He wasn’t a crutch, and she never wanted him to become one.

Still, as she downed her cold breakfast, she wished she hadn’t felt such a strong need to prove that to herself weeks ago.

Especially when word arrived via urchin banging on the warehouse door that she’d been summoned to the Assassins’ Keep. Immediately.

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