Queen of Shadows Chapter 32 Read Online

Full Read the Online Chapter 32 of Queen of Shadows novel by Sarah J. Maas for free.

Chapter 32 Part 1 Lady of Shadows of Queen of Shadows: Manon had spotted Elide sleeping against Abraxos the moment they’d entered the aerie, and she’d become aware of her presence moments before that—tracking her from scent alone up the stairs. If Asterin and Sorrel had noticed, they made no comment.

The servant girl was sitting on her ass, almost to the doorway, one foot in the air to keep her chains from dragging. Smart, even if she’d been too stupid to realize how well they saw in the dark.

“There was someone in my room,” Elide said, lowering her foot and standing.

Asterin stiffened. “Who?”

“I don’t know,” Elide said, keeping near the doorway, even if it would do her no good. “It didn’t seem wise to go inside.”

Abraxos had tensed, his tail shifting over the stones. The useless beast was worried for the girl. Manon narrowed her eyes at him. “Isn’t your kind supposed to eat young women?”

He glared at her.

Elide held her ground as Manon prowled closer. And Manon, despite herself, was impressed. She looked at the girl—really looked at her.

A girl who was not afraid to sleep against a wyvern, who had enough common sense to tell when danger might be approaching … Perhaps that blood really did run blue.

“There is a chamber beneath this castle,” Manon said, and Asterin and Sorrel fell into rank behind her. “Inside it is a coven of Yellowlegs witches, all taken by the duke to … create demon offspring. I want you to get into that chamber. I want you to tell me what’s happening in there.”

The human went pale as death. “I can’t.”

“You can, and you will,” Manon said. “You’re mine now.” She felt Asterin’s attention on her—the disapproval and surprise. Manon went on, “You find a way into that chamber, you give me the details, you keep quietabout what you learn, and you live. If you betray me, if you tell anyone … then we’ll toast to you at your wedding party to a handsome Valg husband, I suppose.”

The girl’s hands were shaking. Manon smacked them down to her sides. “We do not tolerate cowards in the Blackbeak ranks,” she hissed. “Or did you think your protection was free?” Manon pointed to the door. “You’re to stay in my chambers if your own are compromised. Go wait at the bottom of the stairs.”

Elide glanced behind Manon to her Second and Third, as if she was considering begging them to help. But Manon knew that their faces were stony and unyielding. Elide’s terror was a tang in Manon’s nose as she limped away. It took her far too long to get down the stairs, that wasted leg of hers slowing her to a crone’s pace. Once she was at the bottom, Manon turned to Sorrel and Asterin.

“She could go to the duke,” Sorrel said. As Second, she had the right to make that remark—to think through all threats to the heir.

“She’s not that ruthless.”

Asterin clicked her tongue. “That was why you spoke, knowing she was here.”

Manon didn’t bother nodding.

“If she’s caught?” Asterin asked. Sorrel glanced sharply at her. Manon didn’t feel like reprimanding. It was on Sorrel to sort out the dominance between them now.

“If she’s caught, then we’ll find another way.”

“And you have no qualms about them killing her? Or using that shadowfire on her?”

“Stand down, Asterin,” Sorrel ground out.

Asterin did no such thing. “You should be asking these questions,


Sorrel’s iron teeth snapped down. “It is because of your questioning that you’re now Third.”

“Enough,” Manon said. “Elide is the only one who might get into that chamber and report. The duke has his grunts under orders not to let a single witch near. Even the Shadows can’t get close enough. But a servant girl, cleaning up whatever mess …”

“You were the one waiting in her room,” Asterin said. “A dose of fear goes a long way in humans.”

“Is she human, though?” Sorrel asked. “Or do we count her among us?” “It makes no difference if she’s human or witch-kind. I’d send whoever

was the most qualified down into those chambers, and at this moment, only Elide can gain access to them.”

Cunning—that was how she would get around the duke, with his schemes and his weapons. She might work for his king, but she would not tolerate being left ignorant.

“I need to know what’s happening in those chambers,” Manon said. “If we lose one life to do that, then so be it.”

“And what then?” Asterin asked, despite Sorrel’s warning. “Once you learn, what then?”

Manon hadn’t decided. Again, that phantom blood coated her hands.

Follow orders—or else she and the Thirteen would be executed. Either by her grandmother or by the duke. After her grandmother read her letter, maybe it would be different. But until then—

“Then we continue as we’ve been commanded,” Manon said. “But I will not be led into this with a blindfold over my eyes.”


A spy for the Wing Leader.

Elide supposed it was no different than being a spy for herself—for her own freedom.

But learning about the supply wagons’ arrival andtrying to get into that chamber while also going about her duties … Maybe she would get lucky.

Maybe she could do both.

Manon had a pallet of hay brought up to her room, setting it near the fire to warm Elide’s mortal bones, she’d said. Elide hardly slept that first night in the witch’s tower. When she stood to use the privy, convinced that the witch was asleep, she’d made it two steps before Manon had said, “Going somewhere?”

Gods, her voice. Like a snake hidden up a tree.

She’d stammered out an explanation about needing the bathing room. When Manon hadn’t replied, Elide had stumbled out. She’d returned to find the witch asleep—or at least her eyes were closed.

Manon slept naked. Even with the chill. Her white hair cascaded down her back, and there wasn’t a part of the witch that didn’t seem lean with muscle or flecked with faint scarring. No part that wasn’t a reminder of what Manon would do to her if she failed.

Three days later, Elide made her move. The exhaustion that had tugged relentlessly on her vanished as she clutched the armful of linens she’d taken from the laundry and peered down the hallway.

Four guards stood at the door to the stairwell.

It had taken her three days of helping in the laundry, three days of chatting up the laundresses, to learn if linens were ever needed in the chamber at the bottom of those stairs.

No one wanted to talk to her the first two days. They just eyed her and told her where to haul things or when to singe her hands or what to scrub until her back hurt. But yesterday—yesterday she had seen the torn, blood- soaked clothes come in.

Blue blood, not red. Witch-blood.

Elide kept her head down, working on the soldiers’ shirts she’d been given once she’d proved her skill with a needle. But she noted which laundresses intercepted the clothes. And then she kept working through the hours it took to clean and dry and press them, staying later than most of the others. Waiting.

She was nobody and nothing and belonged to no one—but if she let Manon and the Blackbeaks think she accepted their claim on her, she might very well still get free once those wagons arrived. The Blackbeaks didn’t care about her—not really. Her heritage was convenient for them. She

doubted they would notice when she vanished. She’d been a ghost for years now, anyway, her heart full of the forgotten dead.

So she worked, and waited.

Even when her back was aching, even when her hands were so sore they shook, she marked the laundress who hauled the pressed clothes out of the chamber and vanished.

Elide memorized every detail of her face, of her build and height. No one noticed when she slipped out after her, carrying an armful of linens for the Wing Leader. No one stopped her as she trailed the laundress down hall after hall until she reached this spot.

Elide peered down the hall again just as the laundress came up out of the stairwell, arms empty, face drawn and bloodless.

The guards didn’t stop her. Good.

The laundress turned down another hall, and Elide loosed the breath she’d been holding.

Turning toward Manon’s tower, she silently thought through her plan over and over.

If she was caught …

Perhaps she should throw herself from one of the balconies rather than face one of the dozens of awful deaths awaiting her.

No—no, she would endure. She had survived when so many—nearly everyone she’d loved—had not. When her kingdom had not. So she would survive for them, and when she left, she would build herself a new life far away in their honor.

Elide hobbled up a winding stairwell. Gods, she hated stairs.

She was about halfway up when she heard a man’s voice that stopped her cold.

“The duke said you spoke—why will you not say a word to me?” Vernon.

Silence greeted him.

Back down the stairs—she should go right back down the stairs.

“So beautiful,” her uncle murmured to whomever it was. “Like a moonless night.”

Elide’s mouth went dry at the tone in his voice.

“Perhaps it’s fate that we ran into each other here. He watches you so closely.” Vernon paused. “Together,” he said quietly, reverently. “Together,

we shall create wonders that will make the world tremble.”

Such dark, intimate words, filled with such … entitlement. She didn’t want to know what he meant.

Elide took as silent a step as she could down the stairs. She had to get away.

“Kaltain,” her uncle rumbled, a demand and a threat and a promise.

The silent young woman—the one who never spoke, who never looked at anything, who had such marks on her. Elide had seen her only a few times. Had seen how little she responded. Or fought back.

And then Elide was walking up the stairs.

Up and up, making sure her chains clanked as loudly as possible. Her uncle fell silent.

She rounded the next landing, and there they were.

Kaltain had been shoved up against the wall, the neck of that too-flimsy gown tugged to the side, her breast nearly out. There was such emptiness on her face—as if she weren’t even there at all. Vernon stood a few paces away. Elide clutched her linens so hard she thought she’d shred them. Wished she had those iron nails, for once.

“Lady Kaltain,” she said to the young woman, barely a few years older than she.

She did not expect her own rage. Did not expect herself to go on to say, “I was sent to find you, Lady. This way, please.”

“Who sent for her?” Vernon demanded.

Elide met his gaze. And did not bow her head. Not an inch. “The Wing Leader.”

“The Wing Leader isn’t authorized to meet with her.”

“And you are?” Elide set herself between them, though it would do no good should her uncle decide to use force.

Vernon smiled. “I was wondering when you’d show your fangs, Elide. Or should I say your iron teeth?”

He knew, then.

Elide stared him down and put a light hand on Kaltain’s arm. She was as cold as ice.

She didn’t even look at Elide.

“If you’d be so kind, Lady,” Elide said, tugging on that arm, clutching the laundry with her other hand. Kaltain mutely started into a walk.

Vernon chuckled. “You two could be sisters,” he said casually. “Fascinating,” Elide said, guiding the lady up the steps—even as the

effort to keep balanced made her leg throb in agony.

“Until next time,” her uncle said from behind them, and she didn’t want to know who he meant.

In silence, her heart pounding so wildly that she thought she might vomit, Elide led Kaltain up to the next landing, and let go of her long enough to open the door and guide her into the hall.

The lady paused, staring at the stone, at nothing. “Where do you need to go?” Elide asked her softly.

The lady just stared. In the torchlight, the scar on her arm was gruesome.

Who had done that?

Elide put a hand on the woman’s elbow again. “Where can I take you that is safe?”

Nowhere—there was nowhere here that was safe.

But slowly, as if it took her a lifetime to remember how to do it, the lady slid her eyes to Elide.

Darkness and death and black flame; despair and rage and emptiness. And yet—a kernel of understanding.

Kaltain merely walked away, that dress hissing on the stones. There were bruises that looked like fingerprints around her other arm. As if someone had gripped her too hard.

This place. These people

Elide fought her nausea, watching until the woman vanished around a corner.

Manon was seated at her desk, staring at what appeared to be a letter, when Elide entered the tower. “Did you get into the chamber?” the witch said, not bothering to turn around.

Elide swallowed hard. “I need you to get me some poison.”

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