Queen of Shadows Chapter 39 Read Online

Full Read the Online Chapter 39 of Queen of Shadows novel by Sarah J. Maas for free

Chapter 39 Part 1 Lady of Shadows of Queen of Shadows: “Dead as dead can be,” Aelin said, toeing the upper half of the Wyrdhound’s remains. Rowan, crouching over one of the bottom bits, growled his confirmation. “Lorcan doesn’t pull punches, does he?” she said, studying the reeking, blood-splattered sewer crossroads. There was hardly anything left of the Valg captains, or the Wyrdhound. In a matter of moments, Lorcan had massacred them all as if they were chattel. Gods above.

“Lorcan probably spent the entire fight imagining each of these creatures was you,” Rowan said, rising from his crouch bearing a clawed arm. “The stone skin seems like armor, but inside it’s just flesh.” He sniffed at it, and snarled in disgust.

“Good. And thank you, Lorcan, for finding that out for us.” She strode to Rowan, taking the heavy arm from him, and waved at the prince with the creature’s stiff fingers.

“Stop that,” he hissed.

She wriggled the demon’s fingers a bit more. “It’d make a good back- scratcher.”

Rowan only frowned.

“Killjoy,” she said, and chucked the arm onto the torso of the Wyrdhound. It landed with a heavy thump and click of stone. “So, Lorcan can bring down a Wyrdhound.” Rowan snorted at the name she’d coined. “And once it’s down, it seems like it stays down. Good to know.”

Rowan eyed her warily. “This trap wasn’t just to send Lorcan a message, was it?”

“These things are the king’s puppets,” she said, “so his Grand Imperial Majesty now has a read on Lorcan’s face and smell, and I suspect he will not be very pleased to have a Fae warrior in his city. Why, I’d bet that Lorcan is currently being pursued by the seven other Wyrdhounds, who no doubt have a score to settle on behalf of their king and their fallen brother.”

Rowan shook his head. “I don’t know whether to throttle you or clap you on the back.”

“I think there’s a long line of people who feel the same way.” She scanned the sewer-turned-charnel-house. “I needed Lorcan’s eyes elsewhere tonight and tomorrow. And I needed to know whether these Wyrdhounds could be killed.”

“Why?” He saw too much.

Slowly, she met his gaze. “Because I’m going to use their beloved sewer entrance to get into the castle—and blow up the clock tower right from under them.”

Rowan let out a low, wicked chuckle. “That’s how you’re going to free magic. Once Lorcan kills the last of the Wyrdhounds, you’re going in.”

“He really should have killed me, considering the world of trouble that’s now hunting him through this city.”

Rowan bared his teeth in a feral smile. “He had it coming.”

Cloaked, armed, and masked, Aelin leaned against the stone wall of the abandoned building while Rowan circled the bound Valg commander in the center of the room.

You’ve signed your death warrant, you maggots,” the thing inside the guard’s body said.

Aelin clicked her tongue. “You must not be a very good demon to be captured so easily.”

It had been a joke, really. Aelin had picked the smallest patrol led by the mildest of the commanders. She and Rowan had ambushed the patrol just before midnight in a quiet part of the city. She’d barely killed two guards

before the rest were dead at Rowan’s hand—and when the commander tried to run, the Fae warrior had caught him within heartbeats.

Rendering him unconscious had been the work of a moment. The hardest part had been dragging his carcass across the slums, into the building, and down into the cellar, where they’d chained him to a chair.

“I’m—not a demon,” the man hissed, as if every word burned him.

Aelin crossed her arms. Rowan, bearing both Goldryn and Damaris, circled the man, a hawk closing in on prey.

“Then what’s the ring for?” she said.

A gasp of breath—human, labored. “To enslave us—corrupt us.” “And?”

Come closer, and I might tell you.” His voice changed then, deeper and colder.

“What’s your name?” Rowan asked.

Your human tongues cannot pronounce our names, or our language,” the demon said.

She mimicked, “Your human tongues cannot pronounce our names. I’ve heard that one before, unfortunately.” Aelin let out a low laugh as the creature inside the man seethed. “What is your name—your real name?”

The man thrashed, a violent jerking motion that made Rowan step closer. She carefully monitored the battle between the two beings inside that body. At last it said, “Stevan.”

“Stevan,” she said. The man’s eyes were clear, fixed on her. “Stevan,” she said again, louder.

Quiet,” the demon snapped. “Where are you from, Stevan?” “Enough of—Melisande.”

“Stevan,” she repeated. It hadn’t worked on the day of Aedion’s escape— it hadn’t been enough then, but now … “Do you have a family, Stevan?”

“Dead. All of them. Just as you will be.” He stiffened, slumped, stiffened, slumped.

“Can you take off the ring?” “Never,” the thing said.

“Can you come back, Stevan? If the ring is gone?”

A shudder that left his head hanging between his shoulders. “I don’t want to, even if I could.”


“The things—things I did, we did … He liked to watch while I took them, while I ripped them apart.

Rowan stopped his circling, standing beside her. Despite his mask, she could almost see the look on his face—the disgust and pity.

“Tell me about the Valg princes,” Aelin said. Both man and demon were silent.

“Tell me about the Valg princes,” she ordered.

They are darkness, they are glory, they are eternal.” “Stevan, tell me. Is there one here—in Rifthold?” “Yes.”

“Whose body is it inhabiting?” “The Crown Prince’s.”

“Is the prince in there, as you are in there?”

“I never saw him—never spoke to him. If—if it’s a prince inside him … I can’t hold out, can’t stand this thing. If it’s a prince … the prince will have broken him, used and taken him.

Dorian, Dorian …

The man breathed, “Please,” his voice so empty and soft com- pared to that of the thing inside him. “Please—just end it. I can’t hold it.”

“Liar,” she purred. “You gave yourself to it.”

“No choice,” the man gasped out. “They came to our homes, our families. They said the rings were part of the uniform, so we had to wear them.” A shudder went through him, and something ancient and cold smiled at her. “What are you, woman?” It licked its lips. “Let me taste you. Tell me what you are.”

Aelin studied the black ring on its finger. Cain—once upon a time, months and lifetimes ago, Cain had fought the thing inside him. There had been a day, in the halls of the castle, when he’d looked hounded, hunted. As if, despite the ring …

“I am death,” she said simply. “Should you want it.”

The man sagged, the demon vanishing. “Yes,” he sighed. “Yes.” “What would you offer me in exchange?”

“Anything,” the man breathed. “Please.”

She looked at his hand, at his ring, and reached into her pocket. “Then listen carefully.”

Aelin awoke, drenched in sweat and twisted in the sheets, fear clenching her like a fist.

She willed herself to breathe, to blink—to look at the moon-bathed room, to turn her head and see the Fae Prince slumbering across the bed.

Alive—not tortured, not dead.

Still, she reached a hand out over the sea of blankets between them and touched his bare shoulder. Rock-hard muscle encased in velvet-soft skin. Real.

They’d done what they needed to, and the Valg commander was locked in another building, ready and waiting for tomorrow night, when they would bring him to the Keep, Arobynn’s favor at last fulfilled. But the words of the demon rang through her head. And then they blended with the voice of the Valg prince that had used Dorian’s mouth like a puppet.

I will destroy everything that you love. A promise.

Aelin loosed a breath, careful not to disturb the Fae Prince sleeping beside her. For a moment, it was hard to pull back the hand touching his arm—for a moment, she was tempted to stroke her fingers down the curve of muscle.

But she had one last thing to do tonight. So she withdrew her hand.

And this time, he didn’t wake when she crept out of the room.

It was almost four in the morning when she slipped back into the bedroom, her boots clutched in one hand. She made it all of two steps—two immensely heavy, exhausted steps—before Rowan said from the bed, “You smell like ash.”

She just kept going, until she’d dropped her boots off in the closet, stripped down into the first shirt she could find, and washed her face and neck.

“I had things to do,” she said as she climbed into bed.

“You were stealthier this time.” The rage simmering off him was almost hot enough to burn through the blankets.

“This wasn’t particularly high risk.” Lie. Lie, lie, lie. She’d just been lucky.

“And I suppose you’re not going to tell me until you want to?”

She slumped against the pillows. “Don’t get pissy because I out-stealthed you.”

His snarl reverberated across the mattress. “It’s not a joke.” She closed her eyes, her limbs leaden. “I know.”


She was already asleep.

Rowan wasn’t pissy.

No, pissy didn’t cover a fraction of it.

The rage was still riding him the next morning, when he awoke before she did and slipped into her closet to examine the clothes she’d shucked off. Dust and metal and smoke and sweat tickled his nose, and there were streaks of dirt and ash on the black cloth. Only a few daggers lay scattered nearby—no sign of Goldryn or Damaris having been moved from where he’d dumped them on the closet floor last night. No whiff of Lorcan, or the Valg. No scent of blood.

Either she hadn’t wanted to risk losing the ancient blades in a fight, or she hadn’t wanted the extra weight.

When he came out, his jaw tightened, she was spread out over the bed. Not even that silly nightgown had occurred to her. She must have been so tired that the only thing on her mind was that big garment. His shirt, he noticed with no small amount of male satisfaction.

It was enormous on her. It was so easy to forget how much smaller she was than him. How mortal. And how utterly unaware of the control he had to exercise every day, every hour, to keep her at arm’s length, to keep from touching her.

He glowered at her before striding out of the bedroom. In the mountains, he would have made her go on a run, or chop wood for hours, or pull extra kitchen duty.

This apartment was too small, too full of males used to getting their own way and a queen used to getting hers. Worse, a queen hell-bent on keeping secrets. He’d dealt with young rulers before: Maeve had dispatched him to enough foreign courts that he knew how to get them to heel. But Aelin …

She’d taken him out to hunt demons. And yet this task, whatever she had done, required even him to be kept in ignorance.

Rowan filled the kettle, focusing on each movement—if only to keep from throwing it through the window.

“Making breakfast? How domestic of you.” Aelin leaned against the doorway, irreverent as always.

“Shouldn’t you be sleeping like the dead, considering your busy night?” “Can we not get into a fight about it before my first cup of tea?”

With lethal calm, he set the kettle on the stove. “After tea, then?”

She crossed her arms, sunlight kissing the shoulder of her pale-blue robe. Such a creature of luxury, his queen. And yet—yet she hadn’t bought a single new thing for herself lately. She loosed a breath, and her shoulders slumped a bit.

The rage roaring through his veins stumbled. And stumbled again when she chewed on her lip. “I need you to come with me today.”

“Anywhere you need to go,” he said. She looked toward the table, at the stove. “To Arobynn?” He hadn’t forgotten for one second where they would be going tonight—what she would be facing.

She shook her head, then shrugged. “No—I mean, yes, I want you to come tonight, but … There’s something else I need to do. And I want to do today, before everything happens.”

He waited, restraining himself from going to her, from asking her to tell him more. That had been their promise to each other: space to sort out their own miserable lives—to sort out how to share them. He didn’t mind. Most of the time.

She rubbed at her brows with her thumb and forefinger, and when she squared her shoulders—those silk-clad shoulders that bore a weight he’d do anything to relieve—she lifted her chin. “There’s a grave I need to visit.”

She didn’t have a black gown fit for mourning, but Aelin figured Sam would have preferred to see her in something bright and lovely anyway. So she wore a tunic the color of spring grass, its sleeves capped with dusty golden velvet cuffs. Life, she thought as she strode through the small, pretty graveyard overlooking the Avery. The clothes Sam would have wanted her to wear reminded her of life.

The graveyard was empty, but the headstones and grass were well kept, and the towering oaks were budding with new leaves. A breeze coming in off the glimmering river set them sighing and ruffled her unbound hair, which was back now to its normal honey-gold.

Rowan had stayed near the little iron gate, leaning against one of those oaks to keep passersby on the quiet city street behind them from noticing him. If they did, his black clothes and weapons painted him as a mere bodyguard.

She had planned to come alone. But this morning she’d awoken and just

… needed him with her.

The new grass cushioned each step between the pale headstones bathed in the sunlight streaming down.

She picked up pebbles along the way, discarding the misshapen and rough ones, keeping those that gleamed with bits of quartz or color. She clutched a fistful of them by the time she approached the last line of graves at the edge of the large, muddy river flowing lazily past.

It was a lovely grave—simple, clean—and on the stone was written: Sam Cortland


Arobynn had left it blank—unmarked. But Wesley had explained in his letter how he’d asked the tombstone carver to come. She approached the grave, reading it over and over.

Beloved—not just by her, but by many. Sam. Her Sam.

For a moment, she stared at that stretch of grass, at the white stone. For a moment she could see that beautiful face grinning at her, yelling at her, loving her. She opened her fist of pebbles and picked out the three loveliest

—two for the years since he’d been taken from her, one for what they’d been together. Carefully, she placed them at the apex of the headstone’s curve.

Then she sat down against the stone, tucking her feet beneath her, and rested her head against the smooth, cool rock.

“Hello, Sam,” she breathed onto the river breeze.

She said nothing for a time, content to be near him, even in this form. The sun warmed her hair, a kiss of heat along her scalp. A trace of Mala, perhaps, even here.

She began talking, quietly and succinctly, telling Sam about what had happened to her ten years ago, telling him about these past nine months. When she was done, she stared up at the oak leaves rustling overhead and dragged her fingers through the soft grass.

“I miss you,” she said. “Every day, I miss you. And I wonder what you would have made of all this. Made of me. I think—I think you would have been a wonderful king. I think they would have liked you more than me, actually.” Her throat tightened. “I never told you—how I felt. But I loved you, and I think a part of me might always love you. Perhaps I was unaware that you were my partner. Perhaps I will be pondering about that for the rest of my life. Maybe I’ll see you in the Afterworld once more, at which point I’ll be certain. But until then … until then I’ll miss you, and I’ll wish you were here.”

She would not apologize, nor say it was her fault. Because his death wasn’t her fault. And tonight … tonight she would settle that debt.

She wiped at her face with the back of her sleeve and got to her feet. The sun dried her tears. She smelled the pine and snow before she heard him, and when she turned, Rowan stood a few feet away, staring at the headstone behind her.

“He was—”

“I know who he was to you,” Rowan said softly, and held out his hand.

Not to take hers, but for a stone.

She opened her fist, and he sorted through the pebbles until he found one

—smooth and round, the size of a hummingbird’s egg. With a gentleness that cracked her heart, he set it on the headstone beside her own pebbles.

“You’re going to kill Arobynn tonight, aren’t you?” he said.

“After the dinner. When he’s gone to bed. I’m going back to the Keep and ending it.”

She’d come here to remind herself—remind herself why that grave before them existed, and why she had those scars on her back.

“And the Amulet of Orynth?”

“An endgame, but also a distraction.”

The sunlight danced on the Avery, nearly blinding. “You’re ready to do it?”

She looked back at the gravestone, and at the grass concealing the coffin beneath. “I have no choice but to be ready.”

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