Queen of Shadows Chapter 24 Read Online

Full Read the Online Chapter 24 of Queen of Shadows novel by Sarah J. Maas for free.

Chapter 24 Part 1 Lady of Shadows of Queen of Shadows: Chaol didn’t know what the hell to think as Aelin leaped into the pit, landing on her haunches. But the crowd had seen whom she’d pointed to and was already in a frenzy, shoving to the front, passing gold as last- minute bets were made.

He had to plant his heels to keep from being knocked over the open lip of the pit. No ropes or railings here. If you fell in, you were fair game. A small part of him was glad Nesryn was on watch in the back. And a smaller part of him was glad for a night without more fruitless hunting for the new Valg nests. Even if it meant dealing with Aelin for a few hours. Even if Arobynn Hamel had given him this little gift. A gift that, he hated to admit, he sorely needed and did appreciate. But that was no doubt how Arobynn operated.

Chaol wondered what the price would be. Or whether his fear of a potential price was payment enough for the King of the Assassins.

Dressed head to toe in black, Aelin was a living shadow, pacing like a jungle cat on her side of the pit as the Valg commander jumped in. He could have sworn the ground shuddered.

They were both insane—Aelin andher master. Arobynn had said to choose any one of the Valg. She’d picked their leader.

They’d barely spoken since their fight after Aedion’s rescue. Frankly, she didn’t deserve a word out of him, but when she’d hunted him down an hour ago, interrupting a meeting that was so secret that they’d disclosed the location to the rebel leaders only an hour before … Maybe he was a fool,

but he couldn’t in good conscience say no. If only because Aedion would have slaughtered him for it.

But since the Valg were here … Yes, this night had been useful after all.

The pit-lord began shouting the rules. Simply: there were none, save for no blades. Just hands and feet and wits.

Gods above.

Aelin stilled her pacing, and Chaol had to elbow an overeager man in the stomach to keep from being shoved into the pit.

The Queen of Terrasen was in a fighting pit in the slums of Rifthold. No one here, he’d wager, would believe it. He was hardly able to believe it himself.

The pit-lord roared for the match to begin, and then— They moved.

The commander lunged with a punch so swift most men would have had their heads spun around. But Aelin dodged and caught his arm in one hand, locking it into a hold he knew was bone-snapping. As the commander’s face twisted with pain, she drove her knee up into the side of his head.

It was so fast, so brutal, even the crowd didn’t know what the hell had happened until the commander was staggering back, and Aelin was dancing on her toes.

The commander laughed, straightening. It was the only break Aelin gave him before she went on the offensive.

She moved like a midnight storm. Whatever training she’d had in Wendlyn, whatever that prince had taught her … Gods help them all.

Punch after punch, block, lunge, duck, spin … The crowd was a writhing thing, foaming at the mouth at the swiftness, the skill.

Chaol had seen her kill. It had been a while since he’d seen her fight for the enjoyment of it.

And she was enjoying the hell out of this.

An opponent worthy of her, he supposed as she locked her legs around the commander’s head and rolled, flipping him.

Sand sprayed around them. She wound up on top, driving her fist down into the man’s cold, handsome face—

Only to be hurled off with a twist so swift that Chaol could hardly follow the movement. Aelin hit the bloodied sand and uncoiled to her feet just as the commander attacked once more.

Then they were again a blur of limbs and blows and darkness.

Across the pit, Arobynn was wide-eyed, grinning, a starving man before a feast. Lysandra clung to his side, her knuckles white as she gripped his arm. Men were whispering in Arobynn’s ear, their eyes locked on the pit, as hungry as Arobynn. Either the owners of the Pits or prospective clients, bargaining for the use of the woman fighting with such wild wrath and wicked delight.

Aelin landed a kick to the commander’s stomach that sent him slamming into the rock wall. He slumped, gasping for air. The crowd cheered, and Aelin flung out her arms, turning in a slow circle, Death triumphant.

The crowd’s answering roar made Chaol wonder if the ceiling would come crashing down.

The commander hurtled for her, and Aelin whirled, catching him and locking his arms and neck into a hold not easily broken. She looked at Arobynn, as if in question.

Her master glanced at the wide-eyed, ravenous men beside him—then nodded to her.

Chaol’s stomach turned over. Arobynn had seen enough. Proved enough.

It hadn’t even been a fair fight. Aelin had let it go on because Arobynn had wanted it to go on. And once she took out that clock tower and her magic was back … What checks would there be against her? Against Aedion, and that Fae Prince of hers, and all the warriors like them? A new world, yes. But a world in which the ordinary human voice would be nothing more than a whisper.

Aelin twisted the commander’s arms, and the demon shrieked in pain, and then—

Then Aelin was staggering back, clutching at her forearm, at the blood shining bright through the shred in her suit.

It was only when the commander whirled, blood slipping down his chin, his eyes pitch black, that Chaol understood. He’d bitten her. Chaol hissed through his teeth.

The commander licked his lips, his bloody grin growing. Even with the crowd, Chaol could hear the Valg demon say, “I know what you are now, you half-breed bitch.”

Aelin lowered the hand she’d clapped on her arm, blood shining on her dark glove. “Good thing I know what you are, too, prick.”

End it. She had to end it now.

“What’s your name?” she said, circling the demon commander.

The demon inside the man’s body chuckled. “You cannot pronounce it in your human tongue.” The voice skittered down Chaol’s veins, icing them.

“So condescending for a mere grunt,” she crooned.

“I should bring you down to Morath myself, half-breed, and see how much you talk then. See what you make of all the delicious things we do to your kind.”

Morath—Duke Perrington’s Keep. Chaol’s stomach turned leaden. That was where they brought the prisoners who weren’t executed. The ones who vanished in the night. To do the gods knew what with them.

Aelin didn’t give him time to say anything more, and Chaol again wished he could see her face, if only to know what the hell was going on in her head as she tackled the commander. She slammed his considerable weight into the sand and grabbed his head.

Crackwent the commander’s neck.

Her hands lingering on either side of the demon’s face, Aelin stared at the empty eyes, at the open mouth. The crowd screamed its triumph.

Aelin panted, her shoulders hunched, and then she straightened, brushing the sand off the knees of her suit.

She gazed up at the pit-lord. “Call it.” The man blanched. “Victory is yours.”

She didn’t bother looking up again as she knocked her boot against the stone wall, freeing a thin, horrible blade.

Chaol was grateful for the screams of the crowd as she stomped it down through the neck of the commander. Again. Again.

In the dim lighting, no one else could tell the stain in the sand wasn’t the right color.

No one but the stone-faced demons gathered around them, marking Aelin, watching each movement of her leg as she severed the commander’s head from his body and then left it in the sand.

Aelin’s arms were trembling as she took Arobynn’s hand and was hauled out of the pit.

Her master crushed her fingers in a lethal grip, pulling her close in what anyone else would have thought was an embrace. “That’s twice now, darling, you haven’t delivered. I said unconscious.”

“Bloodlust got the better of me, it seems.” She eased back, her left arm aching from the vicious bite the thing had given her. Bastard. She could almost feel its blood seeping through the thick leather of her boot, feel the weight of the gore clinging onto the toe.

“I expect results, Ansel—and soon.”

“Don’t worry, Master.” Chaol was making his way toward a darkened corner, Nesryn a shadow behind him, no doubt readying to track the Valg once they left. “You’ll get what’s owed to you.” Aelin looked toward Lysandra, whose attention wasn’t on the corpse being hauled out of the pit by the grunts, but fixed—with predatory focus—on the other Valg guards sneaking out.

Lysandra stared as Aelin cleared her throat, her look softening into disgust and dread.

Aelin made to slip out, but Arobynn said, “Aren’t you the least bit curious where we buried Sam?”

He’d known his words would register like a blow. He’d had the upper hand, the sure-kill shot, the entire time. Even Lysandra recoiled a bit.

Aelin slowly turned. “Is there a price for learning that information?” A flick of his attention to the pit. “You just paid it.”

“I wouldn’t put it past you to give me a fake location and have me bring stones to the wrong grave.”

Not flowers—never flowers in Terrasen. Instead, they carried small stones to graves to mark their visits, to tell the dead that they still remembered.

Stones were eternal—flowers were not.

“You wound me with such accusations.” Arobynn’s elegant face told another story. He closed the distance between them, and said so quietly that Lysandra couldn’t hear, “Do you think you will not have to pay up at some point?”

She bared her teeth. “Is that a threat?”

“It is a suggestion,” he said smoothly, “that you remember what my considerable influences are, and what I might have to offer you and yours during a time when you are desperate for so many things: money, fighters

…” A glance at the vanishing captain and Nesryn. “Things your friends need, too.”

For a price—always for a price. “Just tell me where you buried Sam and let me leave. I need to clean my shoes.”

He smiled, satisfied that he’d won and she’d accepted his little offering— no doubt soon to make another bargain, and then another, for whatever she needed from him. He named the location, a small graveyard by the river’s edge. Not in the crypts of the Assassins’ Keep, where most of them were entombed. Likely meant as an insult to Sam—not realizing Sam wouldn’t have wanted to be buried in the Keep anyway.

Still, she choked out, “Thank you.” And then she made herself look at Lysandra and drawl, “I hope he’s paying you enough.”

Lysandra’s attention, however, was on the long scar marring Arobynn’s neck—the scar Wesley had left. But Arobynn was too busy smiling at Aelin to notice. “We’ll be seeing each other again soon,” he said. Another threat. “Hopefully when you’ve upheld your end of the bargain.”

The hard-faced men who had been at Arobynn’s side during the fight still lingered several feet away. The owners of the Pits. They gave her a slight nod that she didn’t return. “Tell your new partners I’m officially retired,” she said by way of farewell.

It was an effort of will to leave Lysandra with him in that hellhole.

She could feel the Valg sentries monitoring her, feel their indecision and malice, and hoped that Chaol and Nesryn didn’t run into trouble as she vanished into the open, cool night air.

She hadn’t asked them to come just to watch her back, but to make them realize precisely how stupid they’d been in trusting a man like Arobynn Hamel. Even if Arobynn’s gift was the reason they were now able to track the Valg back to wherever they were squatting.

She just hoped that despite her former master’s gift, they at last understood that she should have killed Dorian that day.

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